May 15, 2014
A gray whale entangled in nets and crab pots off the Santa Barbara coast is now free.
The Whale Entanglement Team was able to find the whale Wednesday morning and cut off the net.
W.E.T. has been tracking the whale from Monterey Bay by satellite buoy to Santa Barbara, attributing the slower rescue efforts on the weather.
It was located in the water between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz Island and took rescuers about an hour and a half from the time they located the whale to when they removed the netting.
A member of the team says if they did not remove the netting, the probability of survival for the whale was zero. They say since they were able to remove all of the net, the animal is now likely to survive and they “have high expectations of a good outcome.”
Two rubber inflatable rafts were used to get to the whale, allowing them to find the knot that was embedded deep inside the tissue of the whale, and only make one cut to remove it.
They said if they only used one raft, which is what normally happens, they would have needed to use knives to remove the knot, causing additional tissue damage to the whale.
Team members say in the last two weeks, four entangled whales have been spotted on the West Coast. Two of those in California have not been re-sighted.
They say with the increase in population in humpbacks and the increase in the number in crab pots in fisheries, more of this is likely to occur.
They are working to get fisheries and fishery suppliers to change the color of the rope from blue to a brighter color that might be more visible to whales.