A boat with Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari reported a behemoth 80-foot blue whale swimming off the coast of Orange County on Monday afternoon, its massive body entangled in Dungeness crab traps and lines still attached to bright orange buoys.
A passenger on board shot live video of the encounter, posted to the safari’s Facebook page, which shows the animal laboring under the weight of the heavy netting. The harness was stuck in the whales mouth, safari captain Dave Anderson told Reuters, and the main rigging of the trap dragged beneath the animal.
In a first of its kind attempt on the West Coast to free a blue whale, an endangered species that officials say rarely becomes entangled, a fleet of rescue boats from local business and law enforcement set out into the Pacific. For hours on Monday, they tracked the struggling whale, Reuters reported, at times getting close enough to dip long poles into the water while the animal surfaced to breathe. At the end of the pole were cutters, used to slice away at the entanglement.
But the whale grew agitated, officials said, and eventually dove deep below the surface and out of sight. Rescuers stopped looking at nightfall, removing a tracking device they’d placed on the whale, reported CNN, and vowing to resume their search the following day.