A photo of the entangled gray whale with a metal frame on its head. Photo courtesy Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies. Credit: Michael White.

A gray whale that is entangled with a metal frame on its head was expected to swim by Big Sur and Pacific Grove Thursday afternoon, and Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies rescuers are asking for the assistance of volunteers to help find it.

The gray whale is caught in what appears to be some kind of metal frame off the coast at Dana Point, Calif. on Saturday, April 1, 2017. At 3:30pm on Wednesday, the whale was sighted off Piedras Blancas, near San Simeon.  Heading north, it is expected to be off Pt. Pinos between 3:15 pm on Thursday and 3:15 a.m. on Friday.  It could also be in Monterey Bay during the morning hours of Friday, April 7 depending if it crosses the canyon or if it hugs the shoreline in Monterey Bay.

“If you see this whale, DO NOT approach or try to disentangle it” Monterey Bay Marin Life Studies urges. “DO stay with it. Take photos and video and note the location of the whale, the travel direction, whether it is solitary or with others, and its behavior (whether it is surfacing or diving, and the length of dive times) – and immediately call NOAA Entangled Whale Hotline 1-877-SOS-WHALE or hail USCG on CH 16.”

This is a very difficult case with the metal bracket on its head, one we have never encountered before. When first sighted in Southern CA it was toward evening and no chance to attach a telemetry. It has been re-sighted from land due to the diligence of people along the shore looking out for it. NOAA and others in our network are working out how to disentangle this whale. Weather is going to be a factor here in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary starting about the time the whale is expected to arrive in our area.

In addition to those out on boats, they are also asking for shore-based volunteers to help spot it. “Let us know if you are willing to stand by along the coast and search with binoculars. The last two sightings off So. CA were from land. If you have a long lens take a photo please.”

For more information and updates, visit the Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies Facebook page by clicking here.