Injured baby humpback whale seen floating near La Jolla coast

SAN DIEGO – San Diego Lifeguards and a SeaWorld rescue team are monitoring an injured humpback whale, but officials say it could die and there is little rescuers can do to help.

The juvenile whale, which is about 20 to 25 feet long and just a few years old, was first spotted over the weekend injured and with a line wrapped around it about two miles off shore from Bird Rock in La Jolla, lifeguard Lt. John Sandmeyer said. On Monday, the line was gone as the whale had moved just half a mile off shore from the Children's Pool in La Jolla.

Citing Justin Viezbicke, the California stranded network coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the whale was in dire health.

"There is potential the animal will not survive," Viezbicke said. "There's not much we can do."

The SeaWorld rescue team, authorized by the NOAA Fisheries, evaluated the marine mammal and determined it to be in poor condition, according to the Union-Tribune. The line wrapped around it on Sunday was apparently removed by members of the public sometime Sunday or Monday.

"It's not sure whether the lacerations came from the line around it, or if it was in an accident with a vessel in the water somewhere," Sandmeyer said. "But it's having difficulty swimming, there's no doubt about it."

Boaters were being asked to stay at least 1,000 meters away from the injured whale as lifeguards and the SeaWorld team continued to monitor its movements.

SkyFOX flew over the whale Monday afternoon. Despite being warned, a fishing boat appeared to be hanging out near the animal.