Entangled humpback spotted off San Clemente pier, rescuers from across Southern California trying to cut it loose – Orange County Register

DANA POINT Whale rescue teams from across Southern California were off San Clemente pier early Sunday, July 30 after re-locating an entangled humpback whale first found Saturday off San Pedro.

The moderate-sized humpback whale was spotted at 7:30 a.m. off San Onofre by Capt. Calvin Cooper, who was operating a sportfishing charter from Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching.

“At first he thought the humpback wasn’t entangled,” said Donna Kalez, who manages Dana Wharf. “But we haven’t seen a humpback in the area in three weeks, so I knew it had to be the entangled whale.”

Cooper alerted local rescue teams who sprang into action. A tracking device attached to the animal on Saturday helped make it easier to find.

Teams from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center out of Laguna Beach launched from Oceanside early Sunday found the whale off San Clemente by 9 a.m.. said Krysta Higuchi with the marine mammal rescue group.

The center is working alongside a rescue team from Sea World San Diego.

“It will likely be an all day event,” Higuchi said.

The whale was first spotted at 9 a.m. Saturday off Point Fermin. Reports of the struggling animals brought out a network of citizen scientists, rescues groups and private boaters who looked for the whale.

It was found again at noon traveling south by Harbor Breeze Cruises, which operates out of San Pedro and Long Beach, said Capt. Erik Comb.

“It was a smaller humpback whale at the surface with a couple buoys trailing behind it,” Combs said. “It was just at the surface moving very slowly.”

Last year, 71 humpback whales were found entangled off the West Coast. The whales had been caught up in  lobster and crab traps, and other fishing lines, according to data from the  National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Of those, 66 were seen off the California coast, including 13 in Southern California.

The West Coast figure is the highest since NOAA fisheries started keeping records in 1982, and up from 62 in…

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