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April 24, 2012 KION TV Central Coast News: Peggy Stap, leads the Whale Entanglement Team (WET) search for entangled gray whale nicknamed "June"

MONTEREY, Calif. - About 40 to 50 miles south of the calm waters of the Monterey bay is a 40-foot gray whale in distress. Crews last spotted the whale tangled in fishing net at the Monterey/San Luis Obispo County line Tuesday morning.

"Have you ever had any rope tied around your hand and got caught in something and how painful that is?," says Peggy Stap. "It's sad, you just want to help the whales as much as you can.

Peggy Stap is hoping to find her. She's part of the California Whale Entanglement Team, a group who responds to whales entangled in fishing gear. She will be heading out Wednesday morning out of the Moss Landing Harbor to help rescue the whale.

"I'm going to hug along the coast and search along the coast," says Stap.

Last Tuesday, the whale got entangled in a net off the coast of Laguna Beach. The only way to detect the whale is with three buoys that are attached to it. Finding the whale is like finding a needle in a haystack.

"You just monitor first," says Stap. "You just don't go in there and make cuts. You have to assess the situation. You don't want to make it worse."

The U.S. Coast Guard is on standby to set up a 200 yard perimeter in case the whale is spotted again.

"They're big creatures, and it's a shame to see one die because of manmade structures," says Lt. John Suckow.

Stap said, the whale is moving slowly, about three to five miles per hour. They don't know exactly where the whale is heading, but they want to reach it soon.

"You want to remove the gear if you can," says Stap. "You don't want an animal to suffer like that."

If you spot the whale, your asked to call 1-877-SOS-WHALE or 1-877-767-9425.


Submitted by Azenith Smith, Central Coast News

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