Search for entangled gray whale off Orange County comes up empty

A few U.S. Coast Guard teams and volunteers again searched off the Orange County coast in vain for a gray whale entangled in fishing wire Thursday.
A few U.S. Coast Guard teams and volunteers again searched off the Orange County coast in vain for a gray whale entangled in fishing wire Thursday. Mar Torres/AFP/Getty Images

For the second day in a row, searchers Thursday did not spot a 40-foot gray whale entangled with fishing line. Rescue workers cut some of the line free Tuesday and were hoping to finish the job.

A few U.S. Coast Guard teams and volunteers searched off the Orange County coast for the whale again Thursday, but the mammal was nowhere to be seen.

Melissa Sciacca with the Laguna Beach-based Pacific Marine Mammal Center said it’s possible the gray whale has left the area.

“There’s a lot of possible different scenarios," said Sciacca. "The animal could have become untangled after the efforts that our team did and so it could be possibly be traveling no longer with the buoys, which would make it next to impossible to find, and would be the best-case scenario. Or the animal could have traveled way far outside of our jurisdiction to where it’s just not within the scope of our search.”

Sciacca said the three buoys were attached to help spot the whale, and, are designed to break away or become unhinged and will not hinder the mammal long-term.

She said workers did cut a 120-foot rope from the whale, but there’s concern it has a line caught in its mouth, preventing it from diving for food.

With contributions by KPCC Wire Services

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