Efforts to free a 75-foot blue whale off the coast of Southern California from a 200-foot crab fishing line are going on two days now.
The blue whale — the largest living mammal — was spotted about 10 miles off the coast of Catalina Island toward the city of San Pedro trailing the buoy. It would surface and then plunge below, pulling the buoy along with it. A whale watching vessel spotted the sight and notified authorities.
United States Coast Guard, LA County Lifeguards and officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association all responded, but it was the work of a tiny non-profit group with one die-hard leader that actually approached the whale Friday night in attempt to make a recovery.
Peter Wallerstein, who heads the non-profit Marina Animal Rescue, steered 10-foot zodiak with a partner toward the whale in hopes of identifying how the whale might have been snagged. Wallerstein speculated with the reporters afterward it could have been hooked on its mouth or fin.
“We woudl have liked to have cut it all off, but sometimes things are impossible and it endangers the rescuers,” he told CBS LA. “We did the best we could.”
The next morning, the whale was said to be travelling south toward Newport where rescue efforts resumed. Before leaving the whale Friday night, rescuers added a larger buoy the smaller one so that they could spot it in the morning.
Marine biologists say blue whales are more at risk than ever before. There are only about 10,000 whales left in the world, where there used to more than 300,000. Wallerstein, who has been saving marine mammals — mostly sea lions — for more than 30 years, this marked his first blue whale rescue.