Rescuers save humpback whale from unlikely trap

Cascadia research groups helping to free a stuck humpback whale

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY -- A coastal research group helped untangle a humpback whale completely immobilized by crab pot gear of the coast of Washington Tuesday morning, Cascadia Research said.

The Cascadia Research group received a call from an area crab boat that a humpback whale was spotted entangled in crab gear off the entrance to Grays Harbor. The whale, which was fairly close to shore, was reported to be about 35-40 feet long and 3-5 years old with crab gear around its tail stock and flukes.

The research group approached the whale and noticed that all the crab pots had algae growth on them, indicating they had likely been on the whale for some time. Rescuers said the whale was making very little lateral progress, seemed distressed and even seemed to approach the boat for help.

Researchers removed the gear from the whale through tricky maneuvering of the boat and help of the large mammal. The whale rapidly swam away after it was freed, and could not be seen again.

Officials said the crab pots were likely from Oregon.

Some of the gear caught on the whale.