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Team attempting to free gray whale tangled in fishing gear

March 29, 2012 | 11:05 am

Gray whale
A team is assembling to try to free a gray whale tangled in fishing gear as it swims swiftly up the Los Angeles County coastline.

The whale was spotted Thursday morning off Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes, prompting the mobilization of a trained whale disentanglement team, wildlife officials said.

The young gray whale, one of a pair swimming north along the coast, was first spotted by a helicopter off the Orange County coast Wednesday, just five days after another gray whale was discovered entangled in a fishing net off Dana Point.

The animal appears to have lobster fishing gear, including buoys and line, wrapped around the base of its flukes, said Monica DeAngelis, a marine mammal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service.

The young whale's companion, probably an adult gray whale, has what appears to be killer whale teeth marks on its flukes, likley from a past attack,  she said.

A team in Orange County last weekend successfully freed the gray whale from a tangle of netting. But wildlife officials are investigating whether it is the same whale found dead Tuesday in Long Beach Harbor.

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


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Photo: The fluke of a gray whale accompanying another whale that was entangled in nets. Credit: DolphinSafari.com