It’s completely worth the 8 minutes of your time, especially when you see what happened at the end.
Michael Fishback, a co-founder of the Great Whale Conservancy,
spends 2 months each year in the Sea of Cortez photographing whales, helping to track them, and observing their behaviors.
But on Valentine’s Day in 2011, something unexpected happened.
Luckily, it was all caught on film so we’re able to take a look at the fantastic event.
Fishback and those aboard his boat came across a young humpback whale in the water while in the Sea of Cortez.
At first it seemed to be dead, but they floated next to it for several minutes to see what was wrong with it.
While, at first, it showed no sign of life, it eventually rose out of the water and made an exhaling sound. Knowing then that the creature was alive, Fishback decided to throw on his snorkel gear and get a closer look at the whale to see what was going on.
The whale was entangled in a nylon net, the same kind used by local fisherman.
Even though Fishback was worried for his own safety, knowing that “the whale was frightened and fatigued and could still kill [him] with one panicked movement”, he continued to investigate the situation.
He found that the whale was so entangled in the net that its tale was weighed down 15 feet beneath the surface and both of its pectoral fins were pinned to its side.
Fishback returned to the boat and radioed for help, knowing that it’d be difficult to free the whale alone. But he received a response saying that in around an hour someone might be there to help, and he knew it’d be too late by then.
So he, and the rest of those on board the boat, took matters into their own hands and worked hard to cut the creature from the net. They only had one paddle to maneuver the boat and a single small knife to cut with, but, eventually, they managed to get a pectoral fin free.
In a moment of excitement, the whale swam forward in a sense of freedom, dragging the boat behind her for about half a mile until she became tired out. But she then returned to the boat, allowing those onboard to continue to set her free.
You can tell from the video that it was not an easy task; they struggled at times, concerned for their and the whales safety.
But, after another hour, they finally decided that they had cut enough rope to set the whale free. So they made that last cut, waited for a moment to see what happened, and then cheered in excitement and joy as the freed whale swam away.
However, that wouldn’t be the last they’d see of her.
After swimming about 500 feet away from the boat, the whale breeched high into the air, as if relishing in her freedom. She then proceeded to follow the boat for the next hour, giving those onboard a “full surface display”.
Fishback claims that they must have seen over 40 breaches, as well as several tail lobs, tail slaps, and pectoral fin slaps. Even the young girl aboard could see the joy in the whale’s display, exclaiming at one point, “Mommy I know what she’s doing…she’s showing us that she’s all free.”
Fishback explained that he and all those aboard the boat were incredibly proud of what they accomplished and thrilled that they saved the young whale’s life – and for good reason. What they did was absolutely amazing, and certainly something they’ll remember forever.