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Second humpback whale in 'life threatening' situation

Published On: May 02 2014 11:40:21 PM CDT
Updated On: May 02 2014 11:46:14 PM CDT
MOSS LANDING, Calif. -

Marine Life Studies, NOAA and other responders are trying to save a second humpback whale tangled in debris in the Monterey Bay. This comes just days after another whale was freed from being tangled in crab pots Monday.
 
The whale rescue team, which will be heading back out into the ocean Sunday, hasn't seen the whale in distress since Thursday. An effort to find the whale Friday, believed to possibly be a female, turned up nothing. The whale's situation is so dire, the U.S. Coast Guard is being called in to help with aerial support and a drone might be used to scout the water.
 
NOAA's large whale in distress responder Pieter Folkens is part of the team rushing to save the 40 to 45 foot humpback last seen 12 miles off Moss Landing. They believe it's an 80 percent chance the animal could be a breeding female based on her body.

"At this time of year, she could be pregnant and humpback whales are an endangered species and they are not at the same population levels that they should be historically," said Folkens.

Pieter described the whale's situation in two words as "life threatening."

Pieter said there's a type of line called "blue steel" wrapped around the whale's body three times. One line is near the blowhole. They believe there's a crab pot attached to the animal as well.

"The animal is in a nutritionally stressed condition, that means it's very thin and hungry and you can see ribs on left side of animal," said Folkens.

Once they spot the whale again-- they'll dispatch a rapid response team.

As for the first whale found earlier this week, it is said to be doing great. It was heading off shore a few days ago and this morning abruptly turned and began heading toward shore, then moved south. It's about halfway between Moss Landing and Morro Bay.