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Crews successfully disentangle distressed humpback whale

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Rescuers free humpback whale entangled in Raritan Bay Rescuers free humpback whale entangled in Raritan Bay
RARITAN BAY -

Crews have successfully disentangled a humpback whale that got caught in material in waters off the Jersey Shore.

The juvenile whale, estimated to be more than 30 feet long, was freed Wednesday. It had been spotted in the Raritan and Sandy Hook bays in recent days.

Officials say the whale had a piece of gill net - a type of netting used in commercial fishing - wrapped around its mouth, forming a closed loop around its blowhole.

“We got everyone together, put together a good plan,” says Chief Warrant Officer Seth Hunt with the U.S. Coast Guard. “The helicopter spotted him almost right away. He was waiting for us about a mile off the hook.”

Numerous responders, including federal, state and local authorities and a disentanglement team from the nonprofit Center for Coastal Studies, worked together to free the whale. They used a custom-designed hook-shaped knife attached to a roughly 15-foot-long pole to slice the piece of netting.

The whale was not harmed.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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