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Whales entangled at alarming rate along California coast

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — An unusual warming in the Pacific Ocean may be having disastrous consequences for the majestic whales that use the waters off California as a migratory super-highway.

This year alone, more than 60 whales entangled in fishing gear have been spotted along the coast — a more than 400 percent spike over normal and a pattern that began in 2014. Scientists believe the whales may be following prey closer to shore as warm water influences feeding patterns, putting them on a collision course with fishermen, crabbers and lobstermen.

The situation is so dire that the crab fishery has begun working closely with state and federal agencies and environmental groups to figure out where and how the whales are running into their gear. The ocean mammals also have become entangled in gill nets and lobster gear, but authorities have identified the crab fishery as the most urgent concern.

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