Whale Cut Free From Net Off Palos Verdes Peninsula

Crews responded to a sighting off the Palos Verdes peninsula Thursday morning

By Angelo Simone, Robert Kovacik, Jonathan Lloyd and Jesse Gary
|  Thursday, Mar 29, 2012  |  Updated 6:38 PM PDT
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Rescuer Dana Friedman says it was mankind's responsibility to try to free a 1-year-old whale tangled in a net, because the damage was caused by humans. She was one of a team of rescuers who freed that whale off Palos Verdes Peninsula. Janet Kwak reports.

Janet Kwak and Jeff Scharping

Rescuer Dana Friedman says it was mankind's responsibility to try to free a 1-year-old whale tangled in a net, because the damage was caused by humans. She was one of a team of rescuers who freed that whale off Palos Verdes Peninsula. Janet Kwak reports.

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Whale rescue specialists off the coast of Southern California Thursday freed a whale entangled in a net -- the second case this week of a whale trapped in netting off the Southern California coast.

The rescue team was about four miles off the Palos Verdes peninsula at noon when crews approached the whale -- carefully.

"We used grappling hooks to actually attach ourselves to the whale and pull ourselves up to the whale," said rescue team member Peter Wallerstein.

The 1-year-old whale was first spotted Wednesday by a Coast Guard vessel off Huntington Beach with a trailing line and fishing buoy wrapped around its tail fin. Rescue team members attached two orange buoys with flashers to the whale to make it easier to spot.

The rescue team launched Thursday morning. By 2 p.m., crewmembers cut the netting from the whale.

Rescuers exchanged high-fives after the last cut.

"This is damage that was caused by mankind," said volunteer Dana Friedman. "So it's our responsibility to try to mitigate the damage we've done."

The whale and a larger adult whale also were spotted Wednesday by Captain Dave Anderson of Dolphinsafari.com.

Rescue team members were glad the larger whale left the area in advance of the rescue.

"You don't really want another big whale around when you're trying to do a rescue,"said Dean Gomersall of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. "Hopefully they'll  hook up later."

“It does break my heart. About a thousand dolphins and whales are dying in nets and fish gear entanglements everyday,” Anderson said.

This is the second time in the past week that a whale has been stuck in a fishing net. The first whale, nicknamed Bart, found itself in a week-long snarl with a 50-foot net.
  
 
To report a sighting, get an exact GPS location and call the Pacific Marine Mammal Center at 949-494-3050.

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