Scientists in Canada helped keep an orca whale alive for eight hours after she was stranded on an outcropping of rock.
Researchers from the Cetacea Lab and volunteers from a local environmental group received reports of a whale that had become stuck on British Columbia’s North Coast during low tide on Wednesday morning.
The group designed what it called a ‘MacGyver type water pump’ to keep the animal from drowning, and ultimately were able to keep the nine-year-old mammal alive until high tide freed her that evening.
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Scientists and volunteers for a local environmental group helped save an orca stranded on rocks in British Columbia by wrapping it in blankets and wetting it with a water pump and hose
The animal was first reported beached early Wednesday morning, and was not able to free itself until high tide around 4pm
The rescuers used duct tape, a pump and a hose found on one of their ships to get enough water to the whale at low tide, according to the National Post.
‘She cried often, which tore at our hearts, but as the tide came up there were many cheers as this whale was finally free,’ environmental group Whale Point wrote on Facebook.
The team said that the orca was yelling loudly but soon calmed down after she ‘understood that we were trying to help’.
A group of about a dozen seals had also gathered around and researchers said that the made a laughing sound towards their predator.
Scientist Hermann Meuter was first on the scene and spoke to the whale ‘because it was just me and the whale for the first couple of hours, it just felt good to talk to her a little bit and give her some comfort I was able to give her’.
Those who rescued the whale said that she was crying, but that she understood the humans were there to help
Researchers said that the whale’s skin likely would have dried out if she had been left on the rocks alone
He told the Globe and Mail that the transient orca was likely trying to catch a seal before finding herself stuck on the rocks.
The researchers spent hours bringing water to the whale wrapped in wet blankets, to keep her cool and wet.
Marven Robinson, a councillor with the Hartley Bay Band, said that the animal made an audible sigh when the blankets were first laid on.
‘You know, when you’re really thirsty and you take that first drink of water and you kind of go, ‘Ahhh.’ That’s the way this whale sighed in relief,’ he said.
Rescuers said that the whale’s skin would have likely dried out if left on the rock without help until high tide.
The whale was able to escape her position around 4pm and spent about 45 minutes making her way down to the water
When the water was high enough the beached creature spent 45 minutes during high tide around 4pm getting herself down from the outcropping.
A pod of whales was off the shore, apparently waiting for their lost loved one.
Those who saved the whale were later able to identify the whale as T069A2, and say they hope to see the whale soon with her family.
While happy that the whale was able to escape the rock, the scientists were also worried that the experience being stranded may have muscle tissue damaged by the sharp rocks.