The humpback was first spotted Saturday. The fishing line was wrapped so tightly around the whale's tail, it was cutting into its flesh. The weight of the fishing gear was so heavy, it had "anchored the whale in place," said the Marine Mammal Center in a press release.
"They found that the entanglement involved three sets of commercial Dungeness crab gear. It is believed the whale first became entangled and began dragging a crab pot that caught two additional pots and associated lines and buoys. The weight of three combined sets of gear stopped the whale from swimming," explains the center.
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The next day, a team was able to attach a tracking buoy to the approximately 40-foot whale, but due to weather conditions they weren't able to complete the rescue.
On Monday, the Coast Guard joined the rescue operations and were finally able to cut the whale free.
While disentangling the whale boosts its chances of survival, it doesn't guarantee it, says the Marine Mammal Center. This is the third time in the last month a whale has had to be disentangled off the West Coast.