LOS ANGELES — Boats and helicopters scoured the Southern California waters Wednesday for a 40-foot gray whale that became tangled in fishing line while migrating the wrong way.
The U.S. Coast Guard and volunteers were on the lookout in Orange and San Diego counties for the whale, a day after rescuers managed to remove some fishing line from its body, said Melissa Sciacca, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Pacific Marine Mammal Center. The whale could starve unless it turns around.
"There are lots of choppers and boats but it's a big ocean so it could be anywhere," she said. "The animals travel far and fast."
The whale was spotted off the coast of Laguna Beach in Orange County and volunteers managed to remove about 100 feet of plastic fishing line from its body Tuesday before darkness fell. More line remained tangled around its head and left pectoral fin, which over time could cut into the whale and cause infections or even amputate the fin, said Dave Anderson, skipper of a whalewatching business who took his boat out to disentangle the whale.
The adult whale — which did not take kindly to the rescue efforts — appeared to be caught in lines that may have held lobster or crab traps, which the animal may have blundered into in shallow water, Anderson said.