Video shows baby whale off California coast with fishing gear stuck in mouth – The Mercury News
A new drone video shot near Malibu on Tuesday April 20 showed a tangled baby gray whale – first spotted a day earlier off San Clemente – still wrapped in fishing line as it ascended the coast.
From footage shot Tuesday from the sands at Point Dume by Phil Kreis, who was searching for whales to document with his drone, it appears the line was stuck in the whale’s mouth with a buoy trailing about 20 feet behind the calf, which stays close to its mother.
Rescue teams have contacted whale-watching charters and other partners to keep an eye on the calf in the hopes that someone can save the young whale before it’s too late.
âThe calf is moving quite well and doesn’t seem too distressed and the current physical condition looks pretty good. The entanglement appears to be in the mouth so I’m not sure how that will affect the calf’s ability to feed, âNOAA West Coast Stranding Coordinator Justin Viezbicke said in an email update. “I can’t help.”
When mother and calf were first spotted off San Clemente Pier on Monday by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, a rescue team from NOAA and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach was dispatched to attempt to remove the line.
It was difficult, with the mother protecting her baby and making it difficult for the team to get close enough to help her.
As the sun set, the team had to cancel the attempt after removing only part of the fishing gear, which includes a buoy trailing behind the whale’s tail.
Kreis said he was about to leave the beach on Tuesday when a friend said there was a calf just offshore. It wasn’t until he zoomed in on his screen that he saw the coiled calf in line.
âThey were moving pretty well – the good news is they had a good rate of speed,â he said. “I feel so sad … I really hope they can save this whale.”
National Park Service ships, Tow Boat US, Condor Express and Island Packers keep watch all Wednesday between Ventura and Santa Barbara, Viezbicke said.
The whales were averaging about 4 miles an hour Tuesday night.
“They move quickly but we have teams all along the coast so we hope we can watch them more and have another opportunity” to remove the fishing gear, he said.
Gray whales make their annual migration from warm-water lagoons, where many babies are born, to feeding grounds in Alaska. Migration is the longest of all mammals on Earth.
Boaters are urged to keep an eye out for the entangled baby whale and stay with the whale if it is safe to do so. But officials also warned that whales in distress could act unpredictably, so don’t get too close.
Never attempt to free a tangled animal or remove any equipment without training and authorization. Report tangles to 877-SOS-WHAL or 877-767-9425, or contact the US Coast Guard on the VHF channel. 16.