SAN DIEGO -- SeaWorld San Diego officials said Sunday while they're hopeful the 40-foot humpback whale rescued by crews off the coast of La Jolla Shores will survive because the mammal still has fishing line in its mouth that rescuers weren't able to remove.
SeaWorld and San Diego lifeguards worked Saturday morning to free the whale from some netting, removing rope from the whale's mouth.
The National Marine Fisheries Service considered the rescue a partial disentanglement since the whale still has some line caught in its mouth, according to David Koontz, communications director for SeaWorld San Diego.
The distressed whale first was spotted by whale watching boats off Balboa Pier in Newport Beach Friday, caught in two lobster nets.
A crew worked for several hours to untangle the whale Friday but couldn't completely free the mammal and put a GPS tracking device on it so they could track its movements.
Rescuers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cut at least 100 feet of rope and buoy off the whale Friday.
Rescuers in Orange County then informed SeaWorld San Diego the whale was heading south and a rescue team was formed by Keith Yip, SeaWorld's curator of animals.
The San Diego rescue team worked for three hours to remove the fishing line and traveled five miles with the whale. A snarl of fishing line that trailed six feet behind the whale was removed first, followed by the removal of a second line of rope. Rescuers believe they cut enough line off the whale for it to have a high chance for survival.
Officials believe it may be the same whale already untangled by crews earlier last week off the coast of La Jolla.