SeaWorld team cuts ropes off distressed whale

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May 13, 2010 5:07:41 AM PDT
Officials in California say a SeaWorld team has cut off two ropes and removed more than 100 pounds of fishing net and other gear tangled around a gray whale that has now returned to the Pacific Ocean.

Wildlife biologist Joe Cordaro with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Long Beach says the whale started swimming easier after the nets were removed.

Contrary to earlier reports that the whale appeared sick and ready to die, biologists believe the whale's condition improved dramatically as it swam away.

The whale was docile and calm during the rescue, despite television helicopters hovering above and hundreds of people watching from shore.

The team used a long pole with a sickle-shaped cutting blade on the end to untangle the whale.