“He came right up to our boat and almost mouthed, like, a thank you,” Dave Anderson said. “It was pretty awesome.”
Anderson was one of a team of rescuers from the whale-watching group DolphinSafari.com who had just spent seven hours rescuing a California gray whale from 50 feet of wire fishing net.
Whale-watching boats had spotted the youngster the previous evening and one person stayed with him overnight while the rest of the team got their equipment together for a rescue effort.
It took seven hours for the group to cut away at the netting without hurting the whale. And then, perhaps sensing that he was almost free, he suddenly started pulling and then broke free of the last of the wires that were holding him.
But although the whole experience must have been more than a little frightening, the whale didn’t just race away. Instead, he turned around and came back to the boat in a way that seemed to say thank you.
Not so fortunate were the dozens of other animals who had also been caught up in the netting and died there, including a sea lion, sharks and other fish of all kinds.
“This whale was towing an entire ecosystem,” Anderson said.
The whale was last seen four miles off the coast of Corona del Mar, rescuers said. He looked healthy, with no signs of injury.