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Blue whale entangled in hundreds of feet of fishing line likely spotted off Mexican coast

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RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.: A boat off the coast of Mexico apparently spotted the blue whale Monday that rescuers first saw several days ago entangled in hundreds of feet of fishing line near Los Angeles.

A blue whale trailing line and a red buoy was seen around 10:30 a.m. about 18 miles (29 kilometres) southwest of the Coronado Islands, according to Jim Milbury, a spokesman for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Those Islands are off Tijuana, Baja California, and more than 100 miles (160 kilometres) south of where the whale was last seen Friday.

U.S. rescuers cannot work those waters but have been in contact with their Mexican counterparts, Milbury said.

“There’s not much we can do unless the whale turns north and comes back up,” according to Milbury. He said his understanding was that Mexican rescuers from the group RABEN would need the whale to swim farther south to be able to help it. RABEN could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Though the whale was estimated at 80 feet (24 metres) long, rescuers fear the stress and strain could weaken and eventually kill it.

Rescuers in Southern California have freed other kinds of whales entangled in fishing gear before, but have not tried to free a blue whale so they do not know how it would react. They have warned boaters not to try and free the whale.

On Friday, rescuers off Los Angeles managed to attach a buoy to make the whale easier to spot ‚Äî but it hadn’t been seen once rough seas forced rescuers to suspend their efforts.

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