A 15-foot baby gray whale with a large fishing net rope wrapped around its tail swam into shallow water Friday morning adjacent to the fishing pier in Imperial Beach in what appeared to be a desperate plea for help.
But the whale finally made its way around the pier and swam north toward Point Loma, witnesses said.
The young gray whale was just outside the waves diving and surfacing in an attempt to ride itself of the long fishing net rope wrapped around its tail.
For more than 30 minutes, as dozens of people looked on, the young marine mammal continued to swim adjacent to the pier.
“At one point the whale attempted to swim through the pier,” said Zach Plopper of WiLDCOAST who carries out conservation works in gray whale lagoons in Baja California Surf, Mexico and recently helped to protect more than 200,000-acres of a whale birthing lagoon. “It was obvious that the gray whale was too confused and tired to make it through.”
Plopper asked a fisherman on the pier who cast his fishing line at the baby whale to refrain from doing so in order to provide a safety area for the marine mammal. After cursing and screaming at Plopper, the fisherman finally moved away.
The more than 20-foot-long thick rope appeared to have made deep cuts around the base of the whale’s tail. After being contacted by WiLDCOAST, Imperial Beach lifeguards quickly called SeaWorld to aid in a rescue effort.
"It was both exhilarating to be so close to this amazing animal and frustrating to see the man-made marine debris impacts on ocean wildlife," said Paloma Aguirre a local bodyboarder and environmental activist.