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Entangled gray whale off California, March 2017

Dana Wharf Captain Frank Brennan used a drone to capture overhead photos of this northbound whale towing a gillnet entangling its fluke.

3/22: Just after 4pm,we spotted an entangled gray whale very close to shore — the same one that had been sighted off of Dana Point 3/19. We could see the pink gill net, green line, and small black floats on the top of its fluke; it seemed to strain to try to raise its flukes on the dives. —Volunteer spotters at the Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project

NOAA believes the whale picked up the net between Mexico and California. Captain Chris Pica with Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching said the whale is dragging about 5 to 6 feet of netting, and he last saw it in waters about 60 feet deep.

Whale rescues can only legally be attempted by NOAA-approved teams because they are so tricky and dangerous. They require enough daylight to gather personnel and gear, reach the whale, and either attempt a rescue or place a buoy or satellite tag on the whale so it can be relocated the next day.  

Experts believe it's traveling somewhere between one-and-a-half to two knots. 
"So it's a relatively slow speed, about half or less speed of the average whale but it does have that fishing gear wrapped on its fluke," said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, Director of the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project in an interview with KSBY TV.
"Right now, it's important that it's spotted, specifically in the Pismo or Avila Beach region, so rescue crews in the Monterey area can be prepared for its arrival. That will be the best chance to help untangle this whale is when it gets to Monterey Bay." Experts believe it will arrive in Monterey by March 27 or 28. Some boats and 12 or more trained professionals are on standby. 

Ms. Schulman-Janiger reported to Journey North late the evening of March 26: "No sightings since 1930hrs Wednesday, 22 March, off Goleta Pier." The search continues.