A whale caught in fishing gear off the Washington Coast may have suffered permanent damage.
In a release from NOAA Fisheries, they say that crews from their Large Whale Entanglement Response Network attempted to free a juvenile gray whale that was entangled in fishing gear about 20 miles off the Olympic Peninsula on May 9.
They say that the gear may have been on the whale for up to a month.
When they found the whale, it was in poor condition because the lines had cut deep into its tissue, causing an infection.
They say that the forward part of the whale’s body was bloated, the skin and tail were deteriorating, and another line weighted down the tail 15 feet below the surface.
These factors prevented the whale from being able to dive or swim. .
After days of working with the mammal, teams were able to cut the lines wrapping the tail and remove the weighted gear holding the tail underwater, but they say that due to the gear it appears that the whale may have suffered long-term or permanent damage.
The whale eventually began to move its tail, but officials say that the long-term prognosis poor due to its serious injuries.