VIDEO: Whale possibly tangled in kelp off Sunset Cliffs

Posted at 12:57 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 21:48:04-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A gray whale that appeared to be trapped or tangled in kelp was spotted off the coast of Sunset Cliffs.

Sky10 flew above the water just before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and observed at least one boat trying to assist a whale that was possibly in distress.

The whale was accompanied by another larger whale that was not affected by the kelp.

San Diego lifeguards were in the area, but they did not assist the whale. Lifeguards confirmed with 10News that the whales were not in distress.

Expert Wayne Perryman, with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, says this is fairly common and that the kelp should come out on its own. However, if that doesn't happen, authorities may become more concerned.

"This is the biggest load of kelp I've ever seen in a calf's mouth," said Perryman. "If this stayed lodged in the mouth for several days then you could be concerned because the calf wouldn't be able to nurse so it could be nutritionally challenged."

A boater tried to assist the calf and take the kelp out of its mouth. Perryman says this is a bad idea and illegal. While he understands the man had good intentions, he could've hurt himself or the whales. In a situation like this, he recommends calling the coast guard and letting professionals handle the situation.

SeaWorld officials said they were going to look into the situation.

According to the National Park Service, it's more common to see gray whales near San Diego during their migration period, which ended in March.

If you see stranded marine animals, you can report them to NOAA at (866) 767-6114.  If you see an animal being harassed, you can contact (800) 853-1964.

RELATED: Marine Mammal Stranding Contacts