(Reuters) - Whale watching ships were dispatched on Sunday to help search for a blue whale entangled in a fishing line for several days off the southern California coast, officials said.
The whale, which was first seen by a cruise ship off the coast of the upscale seaside community of Rancho Palos Verdes, was last spotted on Friday in the channel between Los Angeles Harbor and Catalina Island, said Jim Milbury, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Rancho Palos Verdes is about 25 miles (40 km) from Catalina Island.
The Coast Guard will also fly over the area to search for the whale, Milbury said.
Aerial footage previously broadcast by local television news outlet KABC showed a thick line trailing dozens of feet off the whale's tail with what appeared to be a buoy attached to the end.
Blue whales, the largest animals on Earth, can reach nearly 100 feet (30.3 meters) in length and weigh 190 tonnes. They were once driven to near extinction by whaling.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Clelia Oziel)