Rescue underway as humpback whale gets stuck in Ventura Harbor Marina

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- Rescue crews tried to guide a large humpback whale that got stuck in the Ventura Harbor Marina back to the ocean as large crowds gathered to see the rare spectacle Saturday afternoon.

The whale was estimated to be about 35-feet long and got trapped in the finger of the M dock at Ventura Isle Marina and Ventura West Marina around 3:30 p.m.

At times the whale appeared agitated as swirls of sand and dirt muddied the waters at the end of the dock. The whale hit the dock a few times and crashed into the back of a boat, nearly hitting a propeller.

The large mammal breached the water several times and swam around the docks as large crowds of people gathered in the parking lot area above.

Rescuers tried using a hydrophone that plays underwater whale sounds and blocking it to try guiding it out of the harbor.

Many of the onlookers said they were excited to see the whale, but hoped it would get out soon.

"I think it's pretty exciting, I just hope he gets out safe," Stacy Ortiz said.

Wildlife experts spent four hours trying to encourage it out, but suspended efforts for a while to lower stimulation that may be stressing out the mammal. It's unclear if there may be anything wrong with it.

"I don't know if it's injured or if it's sick. I know that earlier today when it was navigating in here under the lower tide that it was bumping into boats and there was some superficial cuts and bruises to it, but I don't know to what extent," Harbormaster John Higgins said.

The Coast Guard, National Parks Service, wildlife experts and local authorities were involved in the rescue effort.

By the evening hours, whale sounds were still being sent out to the whale in the hopes of it leaving the harbor on its own. But if the whale doesn't, experts will come back Sunday morning to come up with more possible solutions.
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