Crews took more than seven to free it, using drones to help them see how best to cut the whale out of the netting.There were at least 12 buoys on the whale’s right flipper and tail. One fisherman counted 180 traps involved, all with lines and anchors weighing down the 30-ton whale.
Fortunately, the whale was able to make it up to the surface for air, but likely didn’t eat for that period, Milstein said.
This trapped whale is part of an upsetting and growing trend for many environmentalists, and is the focal point of legal action threatened by the Center for Biological Diversity, where Oakland-based lawyers allege the state of California is not doing enough to protect the endangered whale from commercial crab lines left in the ocean.
At this point, there is no punitive action for fishers who end up trapping sea life in their lines and traps
The number of entangled whales has grown steadily over the last two years.
NOAA Fisheries recorded that last year, there were 71 cases of whales getting entangled in lines off the costs of Washington, Oregon and California – the highest annual total for the West Coast since the federal agency began keeping records since 1982. Sixty six of those whales were reported off the coast of California. In 2015, 62 whales were reported entangled, NOAA statistics show.
Seven humpbacks have been reported entangled so far this year, Milstein said.
Why the entanglements are on the rise is not completely clear.