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Bill Macfadyen: Tail End of Whale’s Entanglement Has Happy Ending off Goleta Coast

NoozWeek’s Top 5 includes an East Camino Cielo wreck, a Smart & Final Extra!, drought response rules and a mysterious ‘gunshot.’ And do you know about Mission & State?

In case you missed the announcement earlier this week, Noozhawk will be taking over management of the Mission & State website early next month. This strategic partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation is a unique opportunity to bring in-depth reporting on challenging, important local issues to a community that has largely gone without over the last 15 years or so.

We’re excited about the project and the possibilities, and we think it will complement the already strong and growing impact Noozhawk is having every day in Santa Barbara County. Through Noozhawk, we believe Mission & State will get the exposure, readership and leadership it needs to help it become an indispensable — and viable — community resource for civic engagement, public policy and local news.

We expect to begin publishing in earnest around June 9, and we look forward to your feedback.

Click here for my column with the announcement.

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There were 74,733 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top five stories?


Talk about a whale tale. These rescuers have quite the story to tell after freeing a humpback whale from a big entanglement. (NOAA photo via MMHSRP Permit 932-1489)
Talk about a whale tale. These rescuers have quite the story to tell after freeing a humpback whale from a big entanglement. (NOAA photo via MMHSRP Permit 932-1489)

1. Whale Entangled in Fishing Line the Focus of Dramatic Rescue Off Goleta

A young humpback whale, suffering from life-threatening wounds after its tail became ensnared in fishing line, was at last liberated May 15 — right off the coast of Goleta. 

One of its rescuers, Pieter Folkens of the Whale Entanglement Team, told our Lara Cooper that the all-volunteer squad located the animal around 7 p.m. about five miles offshore. That set off an extensive — and ultimately successful — effort to save the whale.

A whale-watching boat had first spotted the distressed animal April 27 near Monterey Bay. It was swimming very slowly while trailing line and a buoy from what turned out to be a 70-pound commercial crab pot.

Folkens, one of three people on the West Coast with the type of federal permit needed to disentangle whales, was part of a team that initially was able to place a satellite tag on the animal, and remove the crab pot and some of the line. Team members thought the rest of the line would slip off the whale, but that didn’t happen.

Over the next 18 days, a network of volunteers and organizations in the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program tracked the whale while working out a rescue plan. It also was determined that the whale had picked up the unwanted attachment off Crescent City near the Oregon border, about 600 miles to the north.

The rope had cut deeply into the whale’s tail, but after it was freed, it was able to swim away — seemingly none the worse for wear.

“I really firmly believe this animal can heal and recover,” said Keith Yipp, a curator of mammals for Sea World and another of its rescuers.

Among the organizations assisting the Whale Entanglement Team were the Condor Express, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Fisheries and West Coast and Protected Resources divisions, and Sea World Rescue

2. Vehicle Crashes Into Ravine in Mountains Above Santa Barbara

Two people were injured the afternoon of May 17 when their vehicle drove off East Camino Cielo above Montecito and tumbled 300 feet into a ravine.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the incident happened near Romero Saddle east of Romero Canyon Road.

Emergency crews responded and found one of the occupants had been knocked out in the wreck but had since regained consciousness, while the other complained of back pain.

Smart & Final Extra! stores are said to offer more healthy, organic options for food and beverages. (Smart & Final photo)
Smart & Final Extra! stores are said to offer more healthy, organic options for food and beverages. (Smart & Final photo)

3. BizHawk: Smart & Final Extra! Grocery Store to Anchor Goleta’s Hollister Village Plaza

Goleta’s Hollister Village Plaza is under construction across from Camino Real Marketplace but the developer, Westar Associates, has announced that a Smart & Final Extra! will be the anchor grocery store when the project opens early next year.

According to BizHawk columnist Gina Potthoff, the store will occupy 24,757 square feet on the western side of the mixed-used development at 7000 Hollister Ave.

The company bills Smart & Final Extra! as a new concept combining quality fresh produce of a farmers market, low prices of a discount grocer and large club-size products of a traditional club store. While Smart & Final has a traditional store at 217 E. Gutierrez St. in Santa Barbara, there’s another Smart & Final Extra! at 1721 S. Broadway in Santa Maria.

Fun Fact: Santa Barbara investor and philanthropist Bob Emmons is Smart & Final’s former chairman and CEO.

Bud Bottoms’ dolphins may be frollicking now, but just wait until they dive into dry concrete. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Bud Bottoms’ dolphins may be frollicking now, but just wait until they dive into dry concrete. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

4. Santa Barbara Declares Stage Two Drought, Approves Water Use Regulations

Having staved off environmental catastrophe with a plastic bag ban, the Santa Barbara City Council has turned its attention to the drought that has been drying out California.

On May 20, the council unanimously approved stage-two drought regulations requiring pools and spas to be covered when not in use, restricting irrigation to nights and early mornings, and prohibiting the use of running water in nonresidential ornamental fountains unless the water surface area is pretty small ... or they contain turtles or Delta smelt.

Just kidding. Delta smelt are protected under the California Endangered Species Act and you’re not allowed to keep them in your fountain. They need an infinity pool.

5. Officers, Deputies Scour Isla Vista, UCSB for Suspect

A report of a possible gunshot heard in the vicinity of UC Santa Barbara’s West Campus Stables brought dozens of law enforcement officers to the area the morning of May 20. UCSB police spotted a possible suspect but the man fled into the bushes, apparently escaping a dragnet that was quickly established.

According to UCSB police Sgt. Rob Romero, a police perimeter was established to protect nearby UCSB faculty housing, Isla Vista School and the Orfalea Family Children’s Center. He said Santa Barbara County sheriff’s K-9 units and a county helicopter assisted in the search.

The suspect was described as white, 17 or 18 years old, 5-foot-8, 140-150 pounds, wearing a black beanie, white shirt and dark shorts. No evidence was found at the scene.

Isla Vista School was placed on lockdown, but that precaution was lifted around 11 a.m.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact UCSB police at 805.893.3446.

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The first thing I thought when this great white shark emerged from the shadows: “I got no spit,” or something to that effect. HT to Greg Pollowitz.

(Chris Saunders video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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