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News and Media

News and Media

A gray whale entangled in abandoned fishing gear was spotted two miles south of Dana Point Harbor, CA by Captain Frank Brennan of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching on Saturday.

Captain Dave Anderson of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari of Dana Point also saw this whale (off Newport Beach) and captured this photograph. Thank you, Capt. Dave, for letting us share this image with our supporters! [Note: Captain Dave leads Orange County's whale disentanglement team and has been involved in dozens of rescues over the years.]

Entangled Gray Whale Copyright Dolphin SafariPhoto Credit: Craig DeWitt/

As we write, our Captain Kurt Lieber is out on our flagship Mr. Barker’s LegaSea searching the area for the poor creature. It was reported that the whale was last seen heading north.

We suspect the metal frame around the animal’s head is a “lobster weight bar” used by lobster fishermen. When they lower the lobster trap from their boat to the ocean floor, it is preceded by this heavy frame which helps keep the trap oriented right side up.

Sadly, and avoidably: In recent years, the number of whales becoming entangled in fishing gear has escalated far above past norms and increases each year.

In 2016, there were 71 entanglements on the West Coast of the United States. This is the highest number since NOAA started keeping records in 1982. It’s important to note that scientists estimate the actual number of entanglements to far exceed those that we humans are able to confirm.

Report Entangled Whales

If you see this gray whale or any others entangled in fishing gear, please call the NOAA Entangled Whale Hotline 1-877-SOS-WHALE or hail the Coast Guard on CH 16. DO NOT approach the whale. If you can, stay with the animal from a safe distance and try to get photos or videos, which can provide important information for rescuers.

NOAA has trained several groups of volunteers up and down the West Coast of the USA. These groups are called upon to go out in small boats and dis-entangle whales. 

ODA is not involved in that process.  BUT, as we are doing today, we are willing to use our boat to go out and search for the whales in distress.

Yes, You CAN Help Whales!

If you are interested in helping these intelligent mammals survive, please consider being part of our Eyes On the Water Team.

We are building a list of people willing and able to go out during the week, from dawn until (possibly) dusk.  No special skills are needed, just a willingness to be ready to go out at a moment’s notice to help our friends in the sea.

Please join us on these scouting trips by visiting our crew application page, filling it out, and returning it to us.

Please become involved! ...and if you can’t be there physically, please be with us in spirit by making a donation today to fuel our boat and help keep this effort--and ones like it--afloat.