BRITISH COLUMBIA

Tangled Whales In B.C. Keeping Officials Busier Than Usual (VIDEO)

07/02/2015 03:29 EDT | Updated 07/02/2015 03:59 EDT

A third tangled whale has been freed from fishing gear off the coast of B.C. in just over a week.

The humpback was spotted Sunday near Cape Beale, wrapped up in what are believed to be American fishing lines. Officials suspect the animal got tangled near Oregon or Washington, and dragged the equipment up the coast before it got tuckered out.

"It was pretty exhausted from towing all that gear around. We think it may have been a Mexican humpback making its way north," said Paul Cottrell, who co-ordinates the B.C. Marine Animal Response Network for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

It took crews seven hours to cut the animal free, and Cottrell said it should make a full recovery.

humpback whale freed bc

He added that this whale — estimated to be about 12 metres long and weighing 40 tonnes — was in better condition than previous cases, given that it was still able to move around.

On June 21, a young humpback was found moored to the ocean floor after being tangled in prawn trap lines off the coast of Powell River.

Again, crews worked for hours to slash away the rope that ran around its tail and through its mouth.

tangled whale powell river

Days before that, Cottrell said a "curious, young" whale swam too close to some nets and got caught near Vancouver Island. Officials monitored the animal closely for a few hours until it slipped free on its own.

Cottrell said he and his team are shocked to have been so busy in just a few days, but said there isn't too much cause for worry — yet.

"Usually, we rescue five to 10 animals a year. So to have one in one week is odd, but in terms of our yearly numbers, we're still in the realm of averages," Cottrell told HuffPost B.C. in an interview.

"However, if it continues at this pace, we'll be seeing above-average numbers real quick."

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