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Gray whale tangled near Laguna Beach reappears off Central Coast

April 24, 2012 | 10:26 pm

The gray whale that had been found tangled in debris this month in the waters off San Onofre, only to disappear, has been spotted again hundreds of miles up the California coast.

The older gray whale -- dubbed June -- has been spotted  off the Central Coast near Gorda, Calif., officials from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center said Tuesday.

The 40-foot gray whale was discovered April 17 towing 50 to 100 feet of line from its pectoral fin, Melissa Sciaccia, director of development at the center, said at the time. But a day later, rescuers lost track of the mammal, which disappeared dragging three buoys along with the debris.

Gray whales like June swim north along the coast each year as part of their annual migration, with their numbers in Southern California peaking in recent weeks.

Since the whale was spotted far from Orange County, officials from the Laguna Beach-based Pacific Marine Mammal Center said that the National Marine Fisheries Service will evaluate the situation and that another organization, one that is also licensed by the federal fisheries service, will take over rescue operations on the Central Coast.

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-- Rick Rojas and Joanna Clay

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