After an apparently entangled fin whale was initially spotted off the coast of southern Orange County, crews were sent to help the animal on Friday.
The report of an entangled whale about 2 miles off Dana Point was made by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which announced the situation Friday afternoon.
The Laguna Beach-based center said in a brief news release that it had sent its whale entanglement team to locate and assist the whale.
SeaWorld Rescue, local fishermen and whale-watching operators out of Dana Point were collaborating with the center.
Sky5 spotted a large whale about 10 miles off San Onofre around 3:30 p.m., but it was not immediately clear if the animal was the one reported to be entangled. Later, another whale, spotted about 12 miles off Camp Pendleton, appeared to possibly have some kind of line wrapped around the front third of its body.
About 5 p.m., Keith Matassa with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center confirmed a boat was en route to the whale, but crews hadn’t been able to see exactly what was entangling the animal, he said.
Dave Anderson and his wife were part of the rescue team that tried to free the whale. According to the couple, the line was wrapped very tight around the animal.
“It was really tough for the team to try to get a … knife in-between the line and the whale,” said Gisele Anderson.
After several failed attempts to cut the line, the whale swam away, Anderson said.
Today was the third time the whale has been spotted, but it was the first time rescuers were able to get close enough to attempt a rescue.
“It’s devastating to us,” said Dave Anderson of Capt. Dave’s Dana Point. “We got so close to being able to help this whale, I mean just inches away.”
Dana Wharf Whale Watch said on its Facebook page that passengers aboard the vessel Ocean Adventures got a look at the whale, which appeared “very skinny.”
Last month, rescuers spent several days trying to help a blue whale that was believed to be entangled in fishing line off Southern California.
That whale eventually made its way into Mexican waters, officials believed.