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Animal Issues – Reports of whales being entangled in fishing traps and lines are becoming more common, and sadly, if not freed, the beautiful mammals often die. One migrating gray whale in Southern California was saved from this fate after rescue workers freed it from debris wrapped around its tail this week.
The whale was found near Redondo Beach and the “disentanglement team would speed up, position its boat directly behind the whale, and then try to catch the tangle with a long rod with a blade on top.”
“As soon as he got the blade in and cut through it, the net and the drag from the buoy, everything popped off and the whale dove. Everybody cheered,” Kelli Lewis, education director of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, said.
Unfortunately, this was not the only whale with tangled masses attached to its tail. Another gray whale was spotted last weekend and although rescuers were able to cut “mounds of gill nets off the tail,” sightings of a dead whale were reported and “rescue workers fear it may have been the weekend whale.”
“That’s something that happens with animals that get tangled in gear,” Lewis said. “Their movements and ability to see are so inhibited they get malnourished, and the netting chaffs their skin, and they get infections. By the time we find them, they have been suffering for some time. It’s not uncommon for them to die as a result of entanglement.”
Sometimes, however, they can survive as whales with “entanglement” scars have been found. Rescuers have high hopes for the most recent whale found as it was much “healthier in its behavior than the weekend whale.”
“The one over the weekend was more lethargic and was not using its tail to move through the water,” Lewis said. “Today’s was showing quick movements and using its body properly. It didn’t look too emaciated. We are hoping for the best on this one.”
Read more at the Associated Press.