Hawaiian officials are looking for a humpback whale who was last spotted off the coast of the state's smallest inhabited island, apparently entangled in fishing gear and dragging multiple red buoys behind him. According to the Associated Press, animal welfare workers are concerned that large portions of the whale's body are trapped in fishing line:
Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said Thursday that fishing line seems to be wrapped across the whale's body and tail. He says about 50 to 60 feet of heavy gauge line appears to be trailing behind the animal. Two red plastic buoys are caught in the gear.
The whale was last seen from a helicopter on Tuesday, but marine mammal response teams are continuing their search in an effort to cut the animal free. We'll continue to update as information is released.
Several other humpback whales have also become trapped in -- and successfully disentangled from -- fishing equipment in recent months, including one whale who nearly died last month after hundreds of feet of wire became wrapped around the animal's mouth, head and right pectoral fin. The whale survived after a response team was able to cut away the entangled gear completely. You can watch that rescue below: