A team specifically trained to respond to whale entanglements freed a humpback whale from commercial fishing gear in Monterey Bay on Monday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Justin Viezbicke, a coordinator with the California Marine Mammal Stranding Response team for the NOAA, said the whale was so entangled, it had been "anchored in place."
The entanglement involved three sets of commercial Dungeness crab gear, the NOAA said, and the combined weight of the gear stopped the whale from swimming.
A California Department of Fish and Wildlife vessel first reported the entangled humpback at about 11:15 a.m. Saturday, and it took the team three days to safely untangle the whale, Viezbicke said.
It was the third such rescue in the past month. An entangled humpback whale off Santa Cruz Island, near Santa Barbara, was saved in mid-April, and a gray whale near Port Angeles, Washington, was freed in late April, the NOAA said.
Teams from Marine Life Studies, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, The Marine Mammal Center, National Marine Sanctuaries West Coast and the U.S. Coast Guard assisted in the rescue, the NOAA said.
The NOAA asks that those who encounter entangled whales on the West Coast report to its 24/7 hot line 877-SOS-WHALE (767-9425) or hail the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16. If an authorized response is needed, reporting parties should stay with the whale while they are able and if it is safe to do so.