She said the captain and the crew that rescued June were not part of the network, and that in general she would advise anyone who encounters a tangled whale to report the animal's location and stay with it but wait for trained rescuers to arrive, not least because such a massive animal can be dangerous.
"They're actually quite fortunate that they did not get injured," DeAngelis said. Still, she called Anello a "steward of the sea."
"I'm not going to rain on their parade. They did something amazing, and they probably did save the life of this animal," she said.
Generally, tampering with whales qualifies as a federal offense under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. But DeAngelis said Anello and his crew were exempted under the law's "good Samaritan" clause.
Tony Anello echoed DeAngelis' fears, saying his son and crew could have been hurt by the large creature. But he also said while fishing gear was the cause of the whale's woe, many fishermen care deeply about the sea and a sustainable fishery.
"There are fishermen who care about the ocean," he said. "We are stewards of the ocean and want a sustainable fishery."