For the third time in a week, rescuers have freed an entangled whale off the B.C. coast.

The latest distressed whale was spotted on Sunday by a fisherman in Barkely Sound, near Ucluelet.

Fortunately, he reported the animal to the Marine Mammal Response Network, which quickly dispatched a team to the area.

Paul Cottrell of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said they arrived to find a massive humpback whale that was at least 45 feet long covered in commercial crab gear.

The equipment was weighing the whale down, particularly on its tail.

“We got there and saw that this animal was quite lethargic. It was towing this gear and obviously had been towing this gear for a long time,” Cottrell said.

The weather was choppy and the water was murky, but after about six hours the team managed to carefully free the whale from the traps.

The animal, believed to be a Mexican humpback, was wounded but is expected to survive.

“Although it does have injuries to its tail and flute, they are not life-threatening,” Cottrell said. “This animal is going to be healthy moving forward, which is fantastic.”

Cottrell said the crab gear came from Washington State, and the DFO will be investigating how the humpback ended up entangled in it.

Cottrell chalked up the number of distressed whales reported this week to the high number of boaters out on the water enjoying the sunny weather.

Anyone who spots a distressed whale is urged to call the Marine Mammal Response Network at 1-800-465-4336 or the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network at 1-800-ISAWONE.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s St. John Alexander