UPDATE, 11:30 P.M.:
An older, 40-foot gray whale was found entangled in a net off Orange County on Tuesday, and a rescue team followed the animal south out to sea in hopes of freeing it.
A team from Laguna Beach's was assembled at 1:15 p.m. when the call came in that a whale had gotten stuck in a net, said Melissa Sciacca, the center's director of development.
The team was able to attach three buoys to the whale to help track the mammal, which was towing about 50 to 100 feet of line stuck on its left pectoral fin, Sciacca said.
Another line was stuck in the whale's mouth, she said. The whale appeared to be a healthy adult and the entanglement appeared to be fairly recent, Sciacca said.
The crew was being "extra cautious as the location of the entanglement poses the highest risk to the rescue team," she said. The rescuers hoped to get close enough to cut the line loose.
As of 6 p.m., the whale was about 10 miles offshore of San Onofre. It was the third such rescue the center has been involved in over the past month, Sciacca said.
The operation was supspended due to darkness at about 6:30 p.m. but was to resume as day break Wednesday. The buoys will help the rescue team track the whale.
The rescue team consists of Team Lead: Dean Gomersall, Volunteer Dana Friedman, and Scott Sedlick.
Please note that only licensed organizations can approach a marine mammal for a rescue operation, and that these individuals are highly trained in skills required for disentangling whales. Marine mammals are protected by federal law, and it can be an extremely dangerous operation to be left only to professionals.
-- City News Service contributed to this report.