A 15-foot baby gray whale with a large fishing net rope wrapped around its tail swam into shallow water Friday morning near the fishing pier in Imperial Beach.
» Video: Baby Whale With Rope Around Tail Sighted Near IB Pier
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"The young gray whale was just outside the waves, diving and surfacing in an attempt to rid itself of the long fishing net rope wrapped around its tail," said Serge Dedina, executive director of conservation group Wildcoast and author of the book, "Saving the Gray Whale."
Witnesses said it dove and surfaced repeatedly in about six to eight feet of water.
Dozens watched as the young whale continued to swim near the pier for more than 30 minutes.
"At one point, the whale attempted to swim through the pier," said Zach Plopper, who is also with Wildcoast. "It was obvious that the gray whale was too confused and tired to make it through."
The rope which was estimated to be more than 20 feet long was wrapped tightly around the whale's tail, cutting into its skin.
However, the whale appeared to be swimming freely.
"Maybe more disoriented than anything," said Plopper. "After 45 minutes swimming around the other pier, it finally made its way out past the pier and north toward San Diego Bay."
Dedina is worried, though.
"The big deal is its Aug. 31st," he said. "The whale is three to four months behind schedule. Most likely it won't survive."
The whale became separated from its mother and its pod. It has thousands of miles to go to reach the Bering Sea.
During the time it was swimming around the pier, there were many fishermen with lines in the water.
Dedina and Plopper asked them to fish on the other side of the pier or perhaps stop fishing for a while. Most people did. One, however, did not want to stop. He ended up stopping eventually out of popular demand.
Plopper said many people had sympathy for the whale.
There were no other reported sightings on Friday. Dedina said he would not be surprised if the whale is spotted off the coast again this weekend.
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