Federal officials say last year was slightly worse than average for the entanglement of large whales, which is a major threat to the animals' populations.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report Thursday on the subject. The agency says the number of cases nationally was 76, and that 70 entanglements involved live animals, while the rest were dead. The 10-year average is closer to 70 entanglements.
The agency says about 70 percent of the confirmed cases were attributable to fishing gear, such as traps, nets and fishing line.
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NOAA says entanglements happened along all U.S. coasts except for the Gulf of Mexico. Entanglement is a major concern for jeopardized species such as the North Atlantic right whale. The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium estimates that about 411 of the whales remain.