A distress call that led to a search Dec. 3 off Spruce Head for a possible sinking fishing boat is now being investigated as a probable hoax.

Rockland Coast Guard Station Commanding Officer Carter Seigh said the public's assistance is being sought to try to identify who made the distress call.

(Click on the link to hear the may day call).

He said anyone with information to identify the individual can call the Coast Guard at 596-6667.

The Coast Guard, Marine Patrol, and local fishing boats searched for six hours without finding any evidence that a boat had gone down.

A may day call was sent out at 6:35 a.m. Dec. 3 over VHF radio. That call was picked up by the emergency communication center in Portland.

The caller said a white, 42-foot fishing vessel lost its rudder and was taking on water fast as the crew was trying to get to shore. The caller said they were off Spruce Head but could not give an exact location. He said he did not have enough pumps to handle the water.

The caller also said the crew of three were getting into survival suits, the commanding officer said.

The caller did not give the name of the vessel nor names of the crew. The male voice reported they were going to try to get to Atwood Lobster.

A helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod is participating in the search as are a 47-foot boat from the Rockland station and a Maine Marine Patrol boat.

A person convicted of issuing a false distress can be sentenced to up to six years in prison and fined $250,000.