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Officials On Rescue Mission To Free Baby Whale Caught Up In Fishing Line

LAGUNA BEACH (CBSLA) -- Two whales, a mother and her baby, were in need of help on Monday afternoon.

It was quite a dramatic rescue operation with the Orange County sheriff's deputies and other officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The baby whale appeared to be caught up in a fishing line off the coast of Victoria Beach.

Officials were able to cut off some of the line but whenever they got close, the whales went underwater.

"Every time we were clipping into that line and put pressure on it, that line would just snap," said Justin Viezbicke with NOAA.

"Mom started to get agitated. Anytime you've got people putting things in the water and boats, there's a level of concern from the mom. She basically stopped allowing us to be on the side with the calf, she put her body between us and the calf. She took the calf right up to the shore so that we couldn't be on the calf side. She was on the ocean side and keeping us from it. At that point, it got unsafe for us to keep chasing them and running up on them as they were swimming far away."

It's unclear if there were any injuries to the whales apart from being trapped, but officials were working to get them freed for about five hours Monday before pausing operations, hoping that eventually the line would disintegrate and free the baby whale.

"When you can't get out there and do what you want to do, it's hard to just boat away from a whale you know has got a problem you really can't address, so I think that's a tough one for all of us."

Officials plan to be on the lookout again on Tuesday to see if they can get another shot at detaching the fishing line from the baby whale.

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