Santa Barbara- S County

Dramatic Whale Rescue Captured On Camera

Dramatic Whale Rescue Captured On Camera

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A daring and dangerous rescue operation of an endangered humpback whale off the coast of Santa Barbara was documented on camera.

The rescue of the young 25-foot whale took 17 days and spanned about 684 nautical miles from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to the Channel Islands Sanctuary.

It all started on Sunday, April 27th around noon. Peggy Stap with Marine Life Studies and the Whale Entanglement Team or WET, says a whale watching boat in the Monterey Bay spotted a whale in distress.

The whale was entangled and weighed down by a 100 pound crab trap and a line was wrapped three times around the base of its tail. Stap says a team of trained responders from WET, determined that the situation was life threatening.

On day one, rescuers in inflatable boats were able to attach a satellite tracking device to the whale. But, they were forced to return to port because it was getting dark.

On day two, The WET Team, lead by Pieter Folkens, re-located the the whale. They were able to carefully cut away the crab trap and remove about 250 feet of line. But, strong winds forced them to turn back before they could remove the rest of line that was cutting deeply into the whale.

Several days passed as rescuers were forced to wait as the weather was too rough to continue to remove the remaining line. Stap said, "It was too dangerous for the rescuers and the whale. It was time to stop."

Several agencies and organizations pitched in to help monitor the whale as it traveled south, including local whale watching boat, The Condor Express.

Finally, on May 14th, the wind subsided and rescuers decided to move forward with the final stage. The whale was located in the Santa Barbara Channel near Goleta Point. The remaining line was cut away and removed. The whale was freed after 17 long days.

Stap says she believes the whale will make a full recovery. She says the positive outcome is due to the network of groups that worked together.

The Whale Entanglement Team was the primary responder. WET works under the authority of NOAA Fisheries' Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

Other agencies and groups involved include, Chanel Islands Marine Wildlife Institute, Sea World Rescue, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Coast Guard, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Slideshow: Dramatic Whale Rescue Captured On Camera

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