Rescue efforts underway for entangled blue whale

(CNN)Rescue efforts are underway to save the life of a blue whale apparently enmeshed in a fishing net in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

The 70-to-80 foot long whale, entangled in crab lines, was spotted at about 3:30 p.m. ET Monday, swimming off the coast of Dana Point, in southern California officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told CNN affiliate KABC.

NOAA Fisheries and the Orange County Sheriffs Department Harbor Patrol are both participating in rescue efforts.The whale is seen in aerial video surfacing and diving below the water, as a whale rescue safari crew encircles the giant mammal.

It appeared to be dragging around 200 feet (61 meters) of line and several buoys from its tail, a viewer from a nearby boat said.Generally, blue whales do not swim close to the shoreline, so such cases of entanglement are rare, NOAA officials told KABC.

However, this would be the second reported incident of a blue whale entanglement off the U.S. West Coast in two years. Last fall, a blue whale was entangled in fishing gear.

In 2015, NOAA Fisheries identified 22 other cases of whales trapped in fishing gear off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California.

Though, animals entangled in gear for long periods of time experience distress, they are still capable of traveling great distances, according to NOAA.There are 10,000 to 25,000 blue whales in the world, according to The World Wildlife Fund. These endangered species are considered the largest and loudest animals on Earth with natural habitats off the coast of California, Chile and the Coral Triangle near Indonesia.

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