Rescuers free embroiled humpback whales off the California coast

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MOSS LANDING, Calif. (AP) – A rescue team helped release a young humpback whale caught in fishing gear a few days south of San Francisco after a fisherman first discovered it, a conservation group said.

The team in a small rubber dinghy in Monterey Bay attached five large pink buoys to the fishing line to brake and keep the whale close to the surface, said Peggy Stap, founder and managing director of Marine Life Studies, a Northern California conservation group.

You could then cut the fishing line that runs across the whale's back, all of the equipment fell away and the animal swam free, she said.

A fisherman saw the whale for the first time on December 9, but when the U.S. Coast Guard replied, it was already gone, Stap said.

The whale was sighted again two days later, but conservation groups and the coast guard were unable to find it after a full-day search.

Stap said another boat discovered it on Friday when a team from Marine Life Studies was nearby and was able to stay with the giant mammal until the rescuers arrived.

Whale involvement is increasing and officials are trying to reduce it. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has postponed the Dungeness commercial crab season by one month to reduce the risk of whales getting caught in fishing lines.


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