Rescue crew saves gray whale trapped in fishing net

Emerald Pellot

On April 24, a rescue crew was able to release a gray whale back into the ocean after it was found caught in a fishing net in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, east of Port Angeles. 

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ geoduck divers spotted the entangled whale that morning.

“I first saw the whale about 7:30 this morning and I was requested to stay with it. If we would have lost track of it it would have been very difficult to relocate it. So I babysat a whale all day,” NR Geoduck Compliance Officer Michael Ulrich told King 5 News. “We are out on Puget sound each and every day. And we certainly don’t see this every day. And being able to contribute to something of this magnitude is pretty special.”

Ulrich said the buoys of the gear were floating behind the whale. The incident was visible from the water’s surface. It looked as though there was a line that went through the whale’s mouth and trailed around one of its flukes. Ulrich suggested the net was a crab pot, which is a wicker trap for crabs, according to King 5 News. 

The whale was stuck for several hours before crews with DNR and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were able to eventually free the mammal. Then it safely swam away in good health.

If you liked this story, you might like to watch this giant whale swim towards surfers.

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