MOSS LANDING, Calif. (KTVU) - Marine mammal experts are crediting a fisherman for helping to save a distressed humpback whale that was entangled in the Monterey Bay.
The marathon rescue mission spanned about 30 hours and began when fisherman John Favazza was in his boat and noticed a roughly 35-foot-long whale tangled up in crabbing gear off Moss Landing on Wednesday.
The Coast Guard contacted NOAA, which in turn contacted the California Whale Rescue network.
Officials with California Whale Rescue say the fisherman followed the animal until experts arrived.
The whale had nylon rope from a crab trap tangled around its mouth and other parts of its body, according to officials.
"Evaluation by the response team determined the entanglement was complex with heavy line leading through the mouth, wrapping twice over the whale’s back, and around both pectoral fins," said Kathi Koontz, director of California Whale Rescue.
So workers placed a satellite tag on the crab gear that the whale was entangled in so they could track the animal until the following day when the team was more prepared to carry out the rescue.
On Thursday, the team located the whale down the coast, about 15 miles off Point Sur.
The rescue team worked for five hours to free the animal.
Officials say without the help from the fisherman who stayed with the animal, the whale would have died from her injuries.
The Coast Guard out of Monterey was also extremely instrumental in helping to free the whale, according to Jim Milbury of NOAA.
Koontz says the hardest part of rescuing an entangled whale is just locating the animal after the initial report.
Humpback whales are feeding in Monterey Bay this month as part of an annual migration north from Baja California.
California Whale Rescue asks anyone who witnesses a whale in distress to contact 877-SOS-WHALE.