VENTURA, Calif. - A thirty foot humpback whale entangled in fishing gear near the Santa Cruz Island is swimming free after a local crew intervened.
Paul Amaral, captain and owner of the Vessel Assist Ventura, a boat towing company, heard the news last Thursday evening when the coast guard put out a broadcast over his marine radio.
"It's fishing gear," Amaral said. "We as humans take advantage of the ocean bounty and doing so with gear out here it's bound to happen. Everyone does their best effort not to interfere with the wild life.The fisherman don't want to harm anything out here but it does happen."
Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) assisted with the day-long rescue.
"So, right here NOAA and the park rangers are trying to free a whale out of some fishing gear," Amaral explains to the NewsChannel 3 crew aboard his boat. "NOAA has a crew that their job is to respond to mammals and they are trained in this type of thing," he said.
It took seven hours, in choppy water, but eventually three men in an inflatable boat cut the whale free.
"It's very very difficult," said Amaral. "You're working with an animal that doesn't know that you are trying to help it so whether or not it cooperates who knows. And the power that it has just in its tail can easily flip the boat could come down and injure someone so a very delicate process," he said.
This was the second whale to be freed from fishing gear in the channel in the past month.