What do you do when you’re out for a day of shrimp fishing and spot a killer whale in trouble?
Why, you help it of course!
That’s exactly what happened on Sept. 30 this year when three shrimpers in southeast Alaska came across a young transient or Bigg’s killer whale–that’s the marine mammal-eating kind–that had got itself stuck on some rocks.
The whale was later identified as T68C1, a six-year-old female member of the West Coast transient population. This is the population of transients we see off Victoria.
The family had been chasing a seal, and the youngster had miscalculated just how shallow it was. When the men found her, most of her body was in the water but she was firmly lodged on underwater rocks and unable to budge. And the tide was dropping.
The three men anchored their boat and returned to the beached whale. First, they tried to push her off the rocks. That didn’t work. So they waited with the whale for about four hours, splashing her with water to keep it cool.
The whole time, the men noted, the whale did not struggle or seem to feel threatened. “She definitely had an understanding of what was going on the entire time,” rescuer Jason Vonick told Sit News. They comforted the whale by petting it. If they stopped, she would squeal until they resumed the petting.
Meanwhile, close by in the bay, two other killer whales—almost certainly her mother, T68C, and younger sibling, T68C3—swam back and forth, clearly distressed about what was happening.
As the tide began to rise, a new worry emerged. The whale was facing head-down into the water and could not lift herself up to keep her blowhole clear. The men jumped into action. They tried propping two oars under the whale’s chin to hold her head up.
But that wasn’t going to work for long, so they wedged the oars under the whale’s pectoral fins. That’s when they realized they could move her. After some heavy pushing they managed to shove the whale into deep water. She was free!
After a few moments of disorientation, the T68C1 righted herself and swam off with her family.
“Not one time, did she ever try to hurt us at all,” says Vonick.
All in all, a job well done, guys! You were in the right place at the right time and did all the right things!
Source: Sit News (www.sitnews.us)