By Don Ford

BODEGA BAY (KPIX 5) — Dramatic video shows whales being rescued off the California coast after the giant creatures got tangled up in what’s become a late crab season.

Just below the surface a Humpback whale struggled to untangle itself from fishing lines, pulling floats that kept it from swimming free.

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A specially trained rescue crew used a pole mounted hook knife to release the animal.

This year several whales have run into crab pot lines – pots that normally would have been pulled by now. But, the season started so late that the whale migration and crab fishing have run into each other.

“The work that we are doing is extremely dangerous. In fact, people in other countries have died doing similar work,” Oceanic Society Outreach Director Kathi Koontz said.

The whales getting trapped can suffer severe injuries, like one seen in 2014 that was finally freed.

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But, the Oceanic Society dosen’t blame the crab fishermen.

“They’ve actually been helping us. The two disentanglements that we’ve been successful with recently in the last few weeks have all been initiated by the fishermen,” Koontz said.

“We do see them out there just about every day, and we run up close enough to put the glasses on them to see if there entangled, and if they are we notify NOAA for the rescue team,” Tony Anello, Owner of the Spud Point Crab Company said.

Being wild animals, the whales are unpredictable, and have been known to thrash about when approached.

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It’s against to law to get closer than 100 yards unless you have a special rescue permit from NOAA.