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Rescuers try again to find and free tangled whale off O.C. coast

April 18, 2012 |  8:19 am

 

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

Search crews resumed efforts to free a 40-foot gray whale entangled in debris early Wednesday after losing track of it overnight.

First spotted off the coast of Laguna Beach, the older gray whale was towing 50 to 100 feet of line from its left pectoral fin, said Melissa Sciacca, director of development at the Marine Mammal Center. She said the Coast Guard is trying to locate the animal, and once found, they will attempt a second rescue.

She said crews were able to cut away some of the debris Tuesday, and the adult whale appears to be healthy despite dragging three buoys along with the debris.

It would mark the third whale rescue in a month off the Orange County coastline, though in the other incidents the mammals had become entangled in netting. A dead gray whale was later found floating  in a Long Beach harbor, though authorities are uncertan whether it was one of the animals that had been rescued earlier.

Three crew members aboard a rescue boat were able to attach the craft to one of the buoys as they worked to slice away the line from the gray whale Tuesday, which has made its way south to the waters off the San Onofre nuclear power station, Sciacca said.

If the whale swims out of Orange County jurisdiction, other agencies will attempt to free it, she said Wednesday.

The Marine Mammal Center is licensed with the National Marine Fisheries Services to help whales, which are protected by law, Sciacca said.

[For the Record: April 18, 2012 10:58 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that one of the gray whales rescued last month later died.]

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-- Stephen Ceasar and Joanna Clay

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