California Team Rescues Humpback Whale From a 300-Pound Crab Trap

After 17 days, marine biologists set the endangered animal free.

Photo: Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images

May 20, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Spectators on a whale-watching boat off the California coast at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary had to call for rescue after spotting a young humpback whale in distress last month.

The Whale Entanglement Team raced to the scene, where it learned that a 300-pound crab trap was weighing down the 25-foot whale. The mammal also had a steel cord from the trap wrapped around its tail. After attaching a tracking device to the whale, the rescuers had to return to shore at sundown.

The next day, the team clipped the crab trap and untangled 250 feet of line. Rough weather forced the group back to port.

As the remaining rope cut into its body, the humpback swam south. Several organizations helped monitor its movement. Last week, after the whale had traveled 684 nautical miles, the Whale Entanglement Team cut away the line completely at the Santa Barbara Channel.
Peggy Stap, one of the rescuers, believes that the freed whale could make a full recovery.

"They have a remarkable ability to heal. It wouldn't have made it if we didn't remove the rope," she told KSBW-TV. "It was so gratifying to see that whale swim free."