08/17/2011 07:47 pm ET Updated Oct 17, 2011

Tangled Whale Prompts B.C. Rescue Effort

Attempts are underway off Vancouver Island to rescue a whale that has become tangled in ropes attached to fishing nets.

An adult humpback whale was first spotted dragging the lines two weeks ago in Georgia Strait, off Nanaimo, but the whale has been seen only once since then and there are growing concerns that the lines might be harming the giant mammal.

"After a while, obviously, the rope starts digging into the animal and chafing and cutting," said Simon Pidcock, of Ocean Eco Adventures, a whale watching company.

The humpback, which can travel 100 kilometres a day, was last seen off Galiano Island on Friday.

A white float attached to the lines can be seen trailing behind the whale in a video taken by the Marine Research and Conservation Society.

On the lookout

A number of whale watching companies, BC Ferries crews and volunteers are on the lookout for the whale.

It's not known how long it's been tangled in the fishing gear.

Pidcock said it's a challenging job to free a whale from fishing gear, but if rescuers could get close enough, the animal could be saved.

"Once we're able to get to the whale and get the right people there from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to remove all the gear, they do a great job and they're fairly quick at doing it."

It is the second incident involving tangled whales off Vancouver Island this month.

Last week a humpback off Tofino, on the Pacific Ocean side of Vancouver Island, was freed of more than 90 metres of line and several floats.