A 20-foot gray whale was freed Thursday afternoon near the Manhattan Beach Pier from a rope tightly wound around its tail after Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol officers spotted it, the Daily Breeze reported Thursday.
The rescue operation was conducted on Thursday afternoon, said Marine Animal Rescue spokesman Peter Wallerstein, who was out on the water when the call came in, told City News Service.
"The small whale was trailing about 10 feet of line on either side of it. We wasted no time and began our approach to attempt to free the whale," he said. "By this time, the whale was close to shore."
Wallerstein said the "line was so tightly wrapped around the fluke (that) the first attempts to cut it free were unsuccessful. Then, we were able to snag the trailing line and pull ourselves closer to the whale. We maneuvered ourselves to the fluke ... and the rope line was removed from the whale."
Despite being freed, the animal's prognosis might not be good.
"It's small and emaciated," Wallerstein told the Breeze. "It's real skinny."
Gray whales are normally seen migrating through the area from December through May, according to the Los Angeles chapter of the American Cetacean Society, which runs an annual gray whale census from Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes.
This is the in 2012. In late March, rescuers freed a gray whale that had rope from a lobster trap wrapped around its tail after a multiple-hour ordeal.
At the time, Monica DeAngelis, a marine biologist with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, told Pete Thomas Outdoors said that while it's unusual to have two whale entanglements in the same general area in less than a week, entanglements aren't uncommon.
Between 2001 and 2010, people reported 78 entanglements off the California coast. Of the 78, 31 involved humpback whales; 19 involved gray whales; four involved fin whales; and one was a minke whale. The whale species was not identified in 22 of the reports.
—City News Service contributed to this report.