Rescuers Free Gray Whale Tangled in Netting Off The Coast Of California

A gray whale that became entangled in fishing nets has been freed thanks to some help from some incredible rescuers.

After hearing reports from whale-watching boats Dave Anderson of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari found the young gray whale in distress dragging about 15 metres of netting filled with dead sea animals off the coast of Dana Point, California.

When Volunteers and staff from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center later caught up with the 9m whale they found a “whole ecosystem” inside the netting, including a sea lion, leopard shark, two angel sharks and various spider crabs, fish and rays.

“It was a huge amount of netting,” said Dana Friedman, who led the whale disentanglement team. “It was frightening.”

Ms. Friedman figures the whale probably caught the other sea creatures as it dragged the netting along the sea floor during its migration up to Alaska from Mexico.

“This was a snapshot into what is going on in the oceans all over the world. Unfortunately, thousands of marine animals die every day from similar circumstances,” said one of the rescuers, Dave Anderson.

Last year researchers, scientists, engineers and fisherman on the East coast came together in a rare show of  support to help solve the problem of ‘by catch‘.  In an attempt to reduce the number of  marine species who are injured or killed accidentally, simple modifications were tabled.  The new efforts include simple things like changing hook designs, making fishing nets more visible to whales, to changing noise levels on fishing boats and impregnating metal gear with substances meant to repel “bycatch species” like sharks.

After the team freed the whale rescuers said it swam up to both boats and came right up to the crew as if to say thank you.  In the images you can see the damage the net did to the whale’s tail. Hopefully it will make a recovery now that it is no longer restrained.