A humpback whale. Courtesy NOAA
A humpback whale. Courtesy NOAA

An entangled humpback whale spotted near Dana Point could be headed toward San Diego waters.

The whale was last seen around 5 p.m. Friday by crew members on a whale watching boat, according to Capt. Dave Anderson of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari. Anderson said rescue experts believe it is the same humpback whale that was spotted Oct. 27 off Redondo Beach.

SeaWorld San Diego, the National Marine Fisheries Service and whale watching boats in San Diego have all been notified to be on the lookout for the whale, Anderson said.

Anderson told City News Service at least 50 entangled whales have been spotted off the coast of California this year — the most in recent years.

Anderson said rescuers weren’t able to attach a tracking device on the whale when it was spotted Friday. Humpback whales don’t travel in a straight line and have unpredictable travel patterns which makes it difficult for rescuers to track them, according to Anderson.

The whale could be as far south as Mexico.

Anderson said whales can survive entanglements for a long time but rescuers want to remove the gear as soon as possible. Rescuers do not think fishing gear is wrapped around the whale’s head, but that it might be a steel or metal drum or the fender from a boat.

Up to 1,000 dolphins and whales die every day from entanglements, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.