Whales Caught in Fishing Lines Signal Trouble For Monterey Bay

Animal fatalities show how warming waters and shifting food stocks are wreaking havoc on California’s coastal ecosystems

MOSS LANDING, Calif. — The morning fog in Moss Landing is still thick when Peggy Stap and her volunteer whale rescue crew load up their GPS-equipped buoys, flying knives and repurposed lacrosse helmets.

It’s just after 9 a.m. on this Tuesday morning when Stap steers her 40-foot boat into the harbor. Her 13-year-old rescue dog, a local social media celebrity known as “Whiskie the Whale Spotter,” shares the captain’s seat. After a quick safety check—calm water, good weather—Stap relays the latest radio chatter to her small team of researchers, photographers and curious visitors.

“Tim’s got a gray whale that doesn’t look healthy,” Stap says. She revs the engine and heads for the open waters of the Monterey Bay.

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