Rescue Efforts to Free Entangled Blue Whale in Waters Off San Pedro Coast Resume

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A blue whale is seen in waters off San Pedro’s Point Fermin on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

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Rescuers resumed their efforts on Saturday to find and free a blue whale that was discovered a day earlier entangled in an apparent fishing line off of San Pedro.

A plane, helicopter and boat were scouring the water during the morning hours in an attempt to locate the whale, which was approximately 80-feet long, CNN reported.

A blue whale is seen in waters off San Pedro's Point Fermin on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)
A blue whale is seen in waters off San Pedro's Point Fermin on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

By early Saturday afternoon, however, the blue whale still had not been located, according to the cable news channel.

Rescue efforts had been called off Friday evening at around 6 p.m. due to "dangerous conditions," the Los Angeles Fire Department's Lifeguard Division said on Twitter.

However, before the search was suspended for the night, a team was able to attach a buoy to the massive mammal, according to Peter Wallerstein, a marine expert with Marine Animal Rescue.

The whale was first reported by Capt. Dan Salas of Harbor Breeze Cruises, who was out on a whale-watching cruise when his boat came across the mammal about 1:30 p.m., Salas told KTLA in an interview Saturday morning.

“We noticed that the whale wasn’t quite acting like a typical blue whale," he said. "So, when we got a little closer we noticed it was trailing a line behind it. And we didn’t know at the time if it was a net, or a fishing trap."

Salas stated it was now believed to be a crab trap that was attached to the line.

Following the discovery, Salas said he notified the Coast Guard immediately, which in turn contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A team from NOAA responded to the waters off San Pedro about 2:45 p.m. after receiving the report of a blue whale enmeshed in a fishing net, according to an agency spokesman.

The location was approximately 5 nautical miles south of Point Fermin, A.J. Lester of the Fire Department's Lifeguard Division said.

Wallerstein had stated on Friday that rescuers hoped to use the buoy as a tracking device.

Salas told KTLA it should aid in the search for the mammal on Saturday morning.

“By putting the buoy on this whale it’s going to help today, because it’s a bright orange buoy … so we can locate the whale," he said.

Wallerstein told CNN on Saturday that the blue whale was last seen about 4 miles off the southern end of Catalina Island. "It's in pretty good condition," he said. "It looks a little thin. It's swimming really good."

He added, "They can move pretty quick ... They travel long distances in a short period of time."

Salas said that he had seen "quite a few blue whales" off the Southern California coast on his cruises over the past month. He described the sightings as "very rare."

Blue whales are the largest animals on the planet and also an endangered species, according to the cable news channel.

Anyone who sees the whale was asked by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to call 877-SOS-WHALE.

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