Southern California breaking news and trends

Free whale-y: Fisherman find and untangle last month's trapped whale

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Mar Torres/AFP/Getty Images

A gray whale found tangled up in nets and towing nylon line off the coast of Southern California in mid-April, has been completely freed of debris, says the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Fisherman found the whale on Friday off the coast of Bodega Bay and removed approximately 120 feet of rope from the animal.

Nicknamed June, the 40-foot California gray whale, a protected animal, was first spotted last month near Laguna Beach with line stuck on its pectoral fin and another line lodged in its mouth. Rescuers began to cut away at the debris, and floats were attached to help spot the creature later. 

The Spud Point Crab Company fishermen said they also removed the two floats today, according to Melissa Sciacca of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, who was thrilled to "have such a happy ending."  

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Resuming search: Gray whale found with tangled fin, line lodged in its mouth

Mercer 20013

Mar Torres/AFP/Getty Images

Rescuers from the Marine Mammal Center and the U.S. Coast Guard are searching Wednesday for an adult gray whale found towing and tangled up in nets off the coast yesterday. 

The 40-foot California gray whale, a protected animal, was first spotted near Laguna Beach with 50-100 feet of line stuck on its left pectoral fin and another line stuck in its mouth.

Partially freed by a team yesterday, the attempted rescue marked the third trapped-whale incident the center has been involved within the past month.

The location of the animal, about 10 miles offshore, posed a high risk to the rescue team, said Melissa Sciacca, the center's director of development. Work on liberating the distressed animal, who she said seemed like a healthy adult, was suspended around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. They had hoped to continue the work on Wednesday.

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Gray whale found dead in Long Beach Harbor had injuries

baby gray whale

Photo by Linda Tanner via Flickr Creative Commons

A baby gray whale.

A young gray whale found dead Tuesday afternoon in Long Beach Harbor may be the same animal that was caught in a fishing net off the coast over the weekend, say wildlife authorities. An investigation is pending.

Monica DeAngelis, a NOAA marine biologist, said the 20-foot-long animal "had black rope attached to its flukes and injuries to the base of its tail, indicating that it had been entangled in debris at some point," notes the L.A. Times.

The animal, found floating and bloated, was towed by lifeguards to the researchers who took photos and collected skin samples for DNA. It will be difficult to determine a match, however, because no DNA was collected during the weekend entanglement, they say.

"We do have a lot of entangled animals, especially gray whales, so it wouldn't be a surprise if it's a new one," said DeAngelis.

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