Dramatic rescue off the southern California coast in March. A young California gray whale embarking on his first migration from Baja, Mexico to Alaska became tangled in a fishing net which dragged behind him collecting debris for a week. He was spotted at night then tagged with a buoy after obtaining permission from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The next day, rescuers spent seven arduous hours alternatively chasing the whale for miles and cutting through the net’s nylon filaments with knives, until he suddenly dove underwater. When he broke the surface, he was free.
Rescuers say the whale came up to the boat afterward, seemingly to say “thank you.” What was left of the net contained a sea lion, a leopard shark, two angel sharks, various crabs, fish, and rays.
The whale was lucky. The problem of bycatch is huge and solutions are desperately needed for the 300,000 marine mammals killed every year by fishing nets.