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By Kristina Pritchett
Over the weekend, an entangled gray whale was spotted off the Dana Point coastline, but disappeared after crew members from one of the city’s whale watching companies attempted to free the animal.
The whale was first spotted off Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes on Saturday, and then was spotted off Dana Point on Sunday. Dave Anderson, owner of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, said he received a call about the whale’s location.
“A team from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) who is part of the network of the disentangle team, removed some of the gear but left some of it on the whale, and they were looking for the animal,” Anderson said.
He said by time they got notification of the whale’s whereabouts, it was almost sundown.
“We only had a few minutes left of daylight,” Anderson said.
He said they had a cutting grapple and tried to cut the gear near the whale’s tail fluke as it dove under the water.
“I got the grapple onto the line and it should’ve cut the line free, but it didn’t,” Anderson said. “I think what happened was the gear slid as the whale was diving and got caught up on the buoy that was being towed by the whale.”
Anderson said it looked like it was a Dungeness crab trap attached to the whale.
Anderson said they were able to attach a tracking buoy and they were able to track it for a while until they found it in the morning floating free.
“We don’t know if the cutting grapple did its job and the whale is free,” Anderson said.
He said, as of Tuesday afternoon, they hadn’t heard anything about the whale and no one had seen it since it last dove. He added; if the gear did get loose, people may not even realize it’s the same whale.
Anderson said whales are being entangled every day and it’s an important issue for people to know what’s happening.