SAN DIEGO — A 30-ton California gray whale, entangled in a fishing net off the coast here, on Friday swam into Mexican waters, where it could live for several weeks before eventually starving, officials said.
Earlier, divers from Sea World in San Diego were unable to get close enough to the whale to cut loose any part of the drift gill net, which was wrapped two or three times around the animal, said Sea World spokeswoman Jackie Hill. The net is used to catch swordfish and sharks.
Hill said that although the whale's hind flukes are free, enabling it to swim and dive, it is prevented from feeding because its head is covered. The species is one of a group called baleen whales, which feed by siphoning food through filter-like mouths.
"It can't siphon anything through," Hill said Friday. "I've likened it to putting a sock over it."
Doyle Hanan, a marine biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game, said that California gray whales, which are on the endangered species list, can survive without food for "several weeks or months."