BODEGA BAY (KPIX 5) -- Three fishermen on the boat, Legacy, risked their lives to save a whale entangled in crab pots near Bodega Bay.
They didn't have time to call for help, it was an emergency situation.
Legacy crewman Valentine Parnell described the initial encounter with the whale.
"Mark comes along side it and we notice that its blowhole was spouting off...it's trapped. Absolutely trapped," Parnell said.
Legacy deck boss Ken Garliepp said, "I mean it was cutting into him to where he was bleeding, so I don't know how long it would have been til he's getting ripped apart by sharks. He definitely needed help."
Using boat hooks, the men snagged lines and started cutting. Piece by piece the old lines slowly came off.
At first the whale resisted, but then something miraculous happened.
"It would come and it would roll over and be like, almost showing us where the lines were on its fins," Parnell said.
Garliepp said, "Once we started getting stuff cut off, it was like he knew we were trying to help him, you know."
The whale was huge. Once freed, it swam around the boat several times, staying close.
The men say it seemed to be saying thanks, but no one knows for sure. No one knows how long the whale was struggling to stay alive.
Back on shore, getting ready to head back out, the skipper and the crew of the Legacy were still thinking about how they saved the life of a dying whale.
"To see this massive, beautiful creature, that could absolutely crush you, but doesn't…It was the most intense thing I've been a part of...," Parnell said.
The crew says, modestly, that the boat was simply in the right spot at the right moment.
They said it will be something they will remember for a lifetime.
"It was a great feeling, a really great feeling," Garliepp said.
Parnell said, "If I was to die today, you know, I would know I did something good with my life."
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