Dolphin Trapped at Bolsa Chica and Whale Entangled in Fishing Line Believed Out to Sea

Two marine mammals whose plights led to much nail biting by human mammals on shore have apparently returned to the open sea, hopefully unscathed.

The bottlenose dolphin that had been swimming in circles in shallow water within the Bolsa Chica wetlands is believed to have left some time this weekend. Meanwhile, the gray whale found entangled in fishing nets off the Laguna Beach coast in mid-April was finally freed Thursday from the lines he was dragging near Bodega Bay off the Sonoma County coast.

After a call was made to the nonprofit Pacific Marine
Mammal Center about an older, 40-foot gray whale stuck in fishing net off Laguna Beach, much of the line had been removed by the following evening. Three buoys were attached to the whale, which had floated south to San Onofre and against its normal migration pattern, so the rescue mission could continue at daylight. But the whale, who one local captain nicknamed “Ellen,” was nowhere to be found the next day.

Next the whale was spotted about a week later dragging lines and buoys off the Monterey County coast, where it had also picked up a new nickname: “June.”

Thursday, Mark Anello
noticed three buoys floating near his 48-foot wooden crab boat about 3 1/2
miles off Sonoma County. Upon closer inspection, he discovered it was June still entangled in fishing net. Using 12-foot bamboo poles with hooks attached to them. Anello and his crew spent 90 minutes removing all the nets and buoys. June took one lap around the boat as if to say thanks and then headed for the open sea, Anello told the Associated Press.

However, the rescue was criticized as dangerous by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which notes it
maintains a network of volunteer disentanglement teams trained to rescue
animals in distress.

The distress that caused an adult dolphin nicknamed Freddie to resist efforts to leave the wetlands on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach since at least April 26 was theorized to have been caused by everything from ocean toxins-fueled brain damage to “bullying” by a pod of dolphins blocking the entrance to Huntington Harbour.

Freddie had plenty of anchovies and other food to munch on at Bolsa Chica. But, as dozens of observers and wildlife experts noticed, any time the dolphin got close to the harbor entrance, and the underwater path back out to the ocean, it would turn around and head back to the wetlands. At least one witness claimed a group of dolphins had rushed Freddie near the Warner Avenue bridge, leading to the bullying speculation.

In any event, Freddie's gone now, according to the NOAA, which adds a second, smaller dolphin that had been hanging out at Huntington Harbour also split, as has that pod of possible Freddie tormenters.

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