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Whale reported entangled in buoys is not found off West Oahu

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 7:45 p.m. HST, Feb 1, 2012

The Coast Guard and National Marine Fisheries Service officials were unsuccessful today in locating an entangled whale reportedly seen in waters off West Oahu.

"We'll just have to wait until we have another report," said Wende Goo, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Goo said officials did not know if the entangled whale was the same one reported on Jan. 6 traveling from Koko Head toward Diamond Head.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Soto said the boat focused its search Wednesday about 7 to 15 miles off west Oahu for a few hours.

The search also involved a couple of Coast Guard helicopter crews, he said.

The Coast Guard said the searches were based on two separate reports by fishermen.

One of the fishermen saw the whale off Barbers Point at 7:30 a.m. and another 20 miles north of Kaena Point at 9 a.m., the Coast Guard said.

Federal whale rescue coordinator Ed Lyman said reports indicated the whale was dragging multiple buoys and a red flag.

He said because the weather was fairly decent, he and other whale rescue officials were hopeful of finding the entangled whale but did not spot it.

"It's like finding a big needle in a big haystack," he said.

He said finding the whale would be easier if those who initially spotted the whale could have followed it from a safe distance of more than 100 yards until a whale rescue crew arrived on the scene.

Lyman, who has helped to develop techniques and equipment to cut away lines, advised boaters not to follow in the back of the whale, because the boat could become entangled in the trailing line.

He said the last successful rescue of a whale occurred in March, when the federal marine crew cut away line around a sei whale off Maui.

Some waters in the main Hawaiian Islands, including the north and southern areas of Oahu and areas between Maui and Molokai and Lanai, are a part of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Federal law forbid people from approaching within 100 yards of a endangered humpback whale. 

Anyone who spots an entangled whale is asked to call 888-256-9840.

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