Gray whale found dead off Long Beach with injuries to tail
Wildlife authorities are investigating whether a gray whale found dead off Long Beach is the same animal that was cut free from a fishing net off the Orange County coast over the weekend.
The young, thin whale was found floating belly up near Port J in Long Beach Harbor on Tuesday afternoon, said Monica DeAngelis, a marine mammal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service.
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, she said.
Lifeguards towed the animal's bloated remains to the breakwater offshore, where biologists took photos and skin samples to collect its DNA.
It will be difficult to say definitively whether it is the same whale freed from a net off Dana Point because no DNA was collected during the rescue attempt over the weekend, DeAngelis said.
"It could be a potential match, but it's hard to say whether it's the same animal. We do have a lot of entangled animals, especially gray whales, so it wouldn't be a surprise if it's a new one," DeAngelis said.
"It would be unfortunate if it was the same one," she added. "I know folks worked hard to successfully disentangle it."
Photo: A young gray whale found dead in Long Beach Harbor. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration