Hawaii officials are currently searching for a whale reported to have been entangled in a bunch of fishing lines and buoys. The whale was last seen near the island of Niihau but officials have yet to find the hapless whale.

The entangled whale was spotted by a Holo Holo Charters boat carrying a group of tourists. According to the boat crew, the humpback whale was entangled in around 50 to 60 feet of fishing line tied to a pair of red plastic buoys. Unfortunately, entangled whales is a common occurrence of Holo Holo employees often see around one or two stricken whales every winter. Moreover, the missing whale marks the 11th confirmed sighting of an entangled whale this winter alone.

The whale was last seen near the island of Niihau as described by two separate accounts from a helicopter pilot and the crew of a tour boat. However, Hawaii marine mammal response teams are still searching for the missing whale. When the whale is found, the response teams will cut it free and hopefully, check for possible injuries.

Judging from the description of the fishing gear trailing behind the whale, officials believe that the whale became entangled somewhere in Alaska. A response coordinator from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary named Ed Lyman stated that it is unlikely that any fishing traps were still attached to the buoys.

Due to the natural curiosity and friendly nature of humpback whales, they are considered to be a valuable eco-tourism attraction in Hawaii. Every winter, large groups of humpback whales head over to the Hawaiian Islands and the annual migration has become an indispensable part of Hawaiian life. These majestic creatures migrate to Hawaii every year for mating and calving.

"Humpback whales visit Hawaiian waters each year from November to May with the peak of the season being from January to March," says the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. "The whale watching industry plays a strong role in the state's economy as it contributes approximately $20 million in total revenues per year."

Humpback whales were considered to be an endangered species after being hunted close to extinction. However, humpback whale hunting was banned by the International Whaling Commission in the year 1966 and whale numbers have been gradually growing since then. Scientists believe that there are currently around 80,000 humpback whales scattered all over the world. To date, the whales now classified as a "least concern" species, which is a considerable improvement over their 1988 status as an endangered species.

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