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Rescue mission launched to save whale entangled in fishing net near San Francisco

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A rescue mission is underway after a whale was spotted entangled in a fishing net off the coast of San Francisco.

The footage showed the nine-metre-long creature swimming with its tail stuck in a huge gillnet.

It comes in gray whales in the region swim north as part of their annual migration from the waters around Mexico to Alaska.

The animal was first spotted off Laguna Beach in the south California in March, when rescuers attached two red buoys to the net to make it more visible.

Earlier this week, rescue teams attempted to cut the net from the whale’s tail, but every time they approached it, it became aggressive and they were unable to continue.

Justin Viezbicke of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the animal had “become very reactive.”

Photo: AP
Picture:
Photo: AP

Officials with NOAA and the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., are currently searching for the whale north of San Francisco because it is believed to be continuing its migration.

Kathi George, of the Marine Mammal Center, said crews also attached a satellite tag to the net last month to track the whale’s movements – but it had since fallen off.

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Ms George said the rescue team would try to cut the net again, or at least try to attach another satellite tag, if the creature was spotted again soon.

She said: “Our goal is to recover the equipment that is on the whale, so we can learn more about the entanglement and how it happened, so we can use it to inform efforts risk reduction.”

Each spring, gray whales migrate 5,000 miles from calving waters off California and Mexico to feeding grounds in the Arctic.

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