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Rescue team searching for humpback whale trapped in debris off Hawaii

Officials are searching for a humpback whale that was entangled in heavy-gauge line near Hawaii on Sunday and is apparently still weighed down by some debris, reports Kauai newspaper The Garden Island.

The whale was reportedly first discovered by Koloa resident Graham Talaber while he filmed sea turtles at Brennecke’s Beach using a drone camera.

“I noticed the rope and a dark spot at the end of the rope,” Talaber told The Garden Island. “I hovered there for 10 or 15 minutes before it finally surfaced. My worries were confirmed when I saw the humpback at the end of the big net.”

Talaber and his father called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which responded within 30 minutes.

Rescue officials removed 2,000 feet of line from the whale, which had surfaced about 100 yards away from shore.

The NOAA described the whale to The Garden Island as emaciated and light-colored. It had “whale lice” on its skin, an indicator of poor health.

The whale outran NOAA and Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources responders Monday while still entangled, and responders continue to track its location using a satellite telemetry buoy that will self-release off the whale in about a week.

They will also investigate the heavy-gauge line to determine its possible origin.

“It’s just right there, right in front of you, this massive, bus-size animal struggling for its life,” Talaber said. “Hopefully, as technology moves forward, we can have a better grip on these things and help mitigate all the bad stuff going on in the ocean.”

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