LATEST UPDATE: Tangled Whale Still On the Run

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is poised to finish cutting a gray whale out of fishing line, a rescue effort it started Tuesday off San Onofre State Beach.

UPDATE, 12:35 P.M. THURSDAY APRIL 19: Still no sign of the wayward whale, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center's Dean Gomersall.

"We had another false alarm, so we're still in a holding pattern," Gomersall tells Patch. "We have helicopters out there looking. The Coast Guard had to divert for a bit, but they'll be back on the search in a little while. Hopefully we'll spot him."

Gomersall says that the search will only continue for a couple of days, the assumption being that the whale will eventually swim out of the area and "hopefully be heading northward like he's supposed to be."

The buoys attached to the whale will eventually fall off, says Gomersall. It's also possible that he may back out of the remainding fishing line on his own.


UPDATE, 4:15 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Dean Gomersall of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center just told us that it looks like the whale search will be called off for the day. The whale, nicknamed June, still hasn't been found.

"There's no real concern for the whale's health," says Gomersall. "It's really healthy, so we'll just start looking again in the morning. He has plenty of blubber to last awhile."

PMMC is actively working in conjunction with National Marine Fisheries Services to determine the new location of the whale. The Center has asked that if anyone sights the whale to call 1-877-SOS-WHALE. (Yes, really.)

UPDATE, 3:55 P.M.: Still no sign of the whale, despite several helicopter crews and rescue units from a variety of organizations on the lookout off the Orange County coast. The plot is thickening, and questions are mounting: is the whale purposely being evasive? Does the whale owe child support? Is it media shy? A waiting public is starting to demand answers. Stay logged on ...

UPDATE, 11:30 A.M.: Staff of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach are still waiting on word if the 45-foot, multi-ton gray whale has been located.

"We're in a holding pattern," says Dean Gomersall, an animal care supervisor at PMMC.

Three or four helicopter crews are actively searching for the whale, which has been nicknamed June by the PMMC.

Before losing contact with the whale Tuesday, the rescue crew attached three floating buoys to the whale to help spot it.

"We've done this in the past and we've been able to locate the animals before," said PMMC marketing director Melissa Sciacca.

A GPS telemetry ball device would be the best way to track a whale, but those are expensive and the buoys are effective, Sciacca said. The whale was found towing 50-100 feet of line, possibly from a lobster pot, on its left pectoral fin, and had another line stuck in its mouth. The team "disentangled a good portion of the line that was on the animal'' before suspending its work around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sciacca said.

Gomersall showed a reporter some of the line that was cut off June last night, as well as a small unnumbered orange buoy, which he says indicates that the line likely came from a non-United States source.

"We're also anticipating that some fishing lines and a lot of other stuff that's out there floated over from the 2011 Japan tsunami," Gomersall said.

In March, two other tangled whales were rescued off the Orange County coast and freed. Gomersall says that it's unusual for three whales to be caught in fishing line within such a short timeframe.

"It's very unusual. It could not only be from the tsunami, but it also could be that non-U.S. fisheries aren't being as cautious with their equipment as other countries," said Gomersall.

Though there are statistics from some sources that state thousands of marine mammals are caught unintentionally in nets and ocean debris every day around the world,the PMMC's Sciacca can't confirm any of them.

"There have been more instances of these type of rescues, and more people are seeing them and reporting them, but there are lots of different reasons as to why," Sciacca says. "This is the main migratory period for them, so they are more likely to get into trouble, but these incidents aren't even the main reason why we do these rescues. Usually it's due to the animals suffering from starvation and malnourishment."

ORIGINAL POST: The U.S. Coast Guard Wednesday morning was one of several groups scouting for a gray whale still trapped in fishing line as volunteers from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center stood poised to resume their rescue efforts.

"We are actively searching for the whale, as well as Sea World San Diego, all the whale watching boats and helicoptor tours in the area," said Dean Gomersall, an animal care supervisor at PMMC. "He should be turning north toward Los Angeles, and marine-watching boats there will also be on the lookout."

The whale was spotted Tuesday and volunteers partially removed the fishing line. PMMC volunteers told ABC yesterday that the effort was complicated because the whale was being uncooperative.

The crew also found that there was more fishing line entangled in the whale's mouth, according to KABC.

"We had a 40- to 45-foot whale let us know in no uncertain terms that it did not like what we were trying to do for it," said Dana Friedman, one of the rescuers.

The whale was last seen at 6 p.m. Tuesday about 10 miles off the coast.

Michelle Hunter, the director of animal care for the center, said yesterday the group was using a volunteer's boat, supported by a boat from the Ocean Institute, but the Coast Guard will have to determine the location of the whale before the center can figure out what boats are available to rescuers.

The Coast Guard will first notify National Marine Fisheries, the agency that licenses groups like PMMC.

The team was able to attach three buoys to the whale to help track the whale, a 45-footer. It was initially towing about 50 to 100 feet of line stuck on its left pectoral fin and another line was stuck in the whale's mouth, CNS reported.

Read about the . Read about the .

-- City News Service contributed to this report.

Mike Proctor April 19, 2012 at 03:37 PM
How much money (tax dollars) is being spent by the USCG to track down this whale? I hope the whale can be helped, but IMO, its not the job of the USCG. Leave it to the volunteers and private groups.
Joker Joe April 19, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Could a GPS indicator been attached?
Rich Kane April 19, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Nope, Bo Bo -- the kind that could withstand the forces of ocean water and a thrashing beast are prohibitively expensive (like $10,000 expensive), and the PMMC, being a nonprofit, can't afford such luxuries, I'm told ...
Joker Joe April 20, 2012 at 03:57 PM
What about Obama? A plate at one of his dinners go for $35,000 plus. If you skip desert it could fund a couple GPSs. just sayin Or let him skip one of his 97 golf outings and we could get 400 GPS units.... Or have his 13 yr. old daughter skip her airplane trip to Cancun and we could get 195 units.
Joker Joe April 20, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Trying to get funding for the whale. That's all.
Joker Joe April 20, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I already have a monthly contribution taken out for Defenders of Wildlife and PETA. My pension is minimal unlike Bo. Just a few less prostitutes and that money could go towards buying a GPS and maybe save a whale or two. just sayin'
Joker Joe April 20, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I do not feel Bo is contributing to the U.S. It is take, take, take. If he only paid for one GPS I would be happy. Instead.............. Want to know where NObama’s 13 year-old daughter is right now with 12 friends? On “spring break” in Oaxaca Mexico, on your dime! She took two jets and 25 secret service men. All this for a thirteen year-old? Why not leave 10 security men behind and save one whale? Is that to much to ask??
Laura Nott April 20, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Let's leave children out of this discussion, please.
T.Spayede April 21, 2012 at 07:18 AM
It's a shame such a diverse country, previously so much more united , has been recently led down such a divisive path, often bringing to light so many correctible injustices and financial misdirections; many of which could have better care taken for the more misfortunate of our living creatures. Perhaps an unused presudential yacht could be dispatched to the OC waters, for the whale's melees currently going on { seem to be sominny}...(I'm sure we could even get a bunch of volunteer 'ribbon-cutters' on board from the recently 're-assigned' guvmint staffers...could be immensely helpful with better direction of funds for de-netting Moby, Wally, FreeWilly, AquaBo and any others rested in the tangled california fishball...) [ - justathot, positiveparallel thinkin' ?, in a diagonal whale route...]
Joker Joe April 22, 2012 at 03:36 PM
OK, realistically, this is not a presidential issue. You are wrong if you think this is not a presidential issue. Why!!! Because you can take years to educate people. Then you spend years trying to get labeling for fish. Then most people could care less so it is a waste of TIME.. Meantime lots of whales, dolphins, etc. die. The bottom line is you need legislation to eliminate the nets. Nets up to 30 miles long is a joke. The film says our nets are not as long but the nets regardless of sizes have to be outlawed. Now, can I survive paying a little more for fish? Sure!! I pay more for cage less chicken eggs. Obama can do his sneaky executive order deal and ban those nets. Matter of fact he can ban puppy mills. There is a lot he can do for the animals if we can get him to move for Americans and animals. As I showed you above the $$$$ is there.
Joker Joe April 22, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Laura, Get a life....
Joker Joe April 22, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Offshore, past 3 miles is considered international waters. My guess is it is federal. Closer maybe state although the oil wells are located closer. I will contact our two female non moving Senators and try to get a response. The problem is it takes years to get them moving if they move at all. Bo can do it in months. Will give you an update from the girls if they respond.
Joker Joe April 22, 2012 at 03:56 PM
PS, Different nets??? What do you mean different nets? Larger holes in them so whales can swim thru them?
Joker Joe April 22, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The problem is it takes years and years. Bo can do it in months. Just sent two emails to the senators. Let's see what they reply. I will post the reply but would bet you that they will try to waltz me with bs.
T.Spayede April 23, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Shouldn't there be a 'net czar' in Wash DC. If not (sp), perhaps one could be created quite quickly, and action taken...Where there's a free willy at stake there must be a way. Also, maybe SeaWorld could be contacted; they have people that can 'free' a gestating 'whale' out of Marineland/Palos Verdes overnite (in a truck), and still tell a Wash DC like tale the same day...Gotta be some of those peops left somewhere, if they haven't migrated to DC already....(hint: W.Hse. Directory - Seaworld Czar Office/ Whale Ops Net Profit...?) (I think the CA ladies were around at the same time...they could have a check on it.)
dsf September 14, 2012 at 09:28 AM
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Nitin Khare November 25, 2012 at 07:16 PM
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archie March 05, 2013 at 12:13 PM
News reports that tangled whale was sighted again in Laguna each. The 40-foot gray whale nicknamed June by the rescue team. If the whale is spotted, teams are ready to attach a special buoy that will emit a satellite signal, so that the animal can be better tracked. http://clickintobusiness.com
T.Spayede March 07, 2013 at 06:08 AM
...but whatif 'June' is not spotted, but all one color, can we still get an aqual-opportunity team out there...?...But then again, 'she' may not wanta be 'tracked' by somebuddy elses 'special buoy' ...when indeed, she may be looking for her 'Jonah' on her own...


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