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Animated humpback is an entangled whale

2015 10-28 SB Channel

A glorious day that started out overcast with spots of virga here and there, but got very hot, sunny and windy as the day progressed. Water temperature was a nice 70°F, and it was very clear.

The cetacean sighting of the day was a single, small humpback whale that we found about 3 miles south of Santa Barbara because it was breaching and slapping its pectoral fins. When we arrived on the scene the whale breached every time it dove, except when it rolled around and slapped its pectorals. We watched this whale for quite a while, and after 45 minutes or so it got on a long dive, short surface interval pattern with only a few pect slaps and one more breach. After a surface interval, again 45 minutes into this animal, Captain Dave spotted a polypropylene line with floats attached. The line was moving through the water and we soon deduced that the very active breaching and slap-happy whale was entangled.

This put us on a mission to gather as much evidence as possible so the local NOAA disentanglement team might have as the data they need to activate a response and perhaps free the whale. In a nut shell, the entanglement appears to be through the mouth. There are open wounds across the back and at the base of the left pectoral fin. The trailing line is very long, maybe 200 feet, with two floats and then another 25 or 30 feet of line.

A smaller boat, a Boston Whaler, was dispatched to keep following this whale, as the Condor Express finally broke off and went out to deeper (and rougher) waters to find more marine life. We watched 2 more humpback whales closely, with many more spouts all around, but it was too rough and windy to get around to all of them.

I’ll keep you posted as things develop with our entangled humpback.

You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express

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