A severely injured humpback whale will likely not survive if fisheries officials cannot find it and cut away the hundreds of metres of fishing line that it’s caught up in.

Officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada last had contact with the humpback off the coast of Tofino over the weekend. However, it broke a tether line and got away.

“When we arrived the animal was in distress,” Paul Cottrell of Fisheries and Oceans told CTV Vancouver.

Rope and fishing line are wrapped around the whale, causing deep cuts and scarring.

“You can tell that it’s definitely not doing well,” Cottrell said.

Boaters are being asked to keep an eye out for the whale. It was last seen heading south from Tofino.

Many animals have been spotted over the years tangled in fishing line, and experts believe many more incidences go unreported because much of B.C.’s long coastline is uninhabited.

Marine zoologist Dr. Anna Hall calls injury to wildlife by fishing equipment “a growing problem.”

In April, researchers rescued a 40-foot humpback off the coast of Washington State. In March, the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine mammal rescue team had to cut fishing lines off a sea lion south of Courtney.

“The fishermen have got to make a living, the whales have got to make a living and unfortunately sometimes the gear and the whales overlap,” Hall said.

This latest injured humpback could be anywhere along the coast. But Fisheries and Oceans officials say that if they can locate the animal, they are confident they will get another good shot at cutting the lines.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst