This is flipping amazing… A heartwarming story captured in film at the beautiful Sea of Cortez.
While sailing in the Sea of Cortez with his family on Valentines Day 2011, Michael Fishbach — a staff member of Earth Island Institute’s Campaign to Safeguard America’s Waters and co-director the Great Whale Conservancy — came across a young humpback whale floating in the water that appeared almost lifeless. A closer look revealed that the whale was entangled in a massive fishing net.
Fishbach’s wife, Heather Watrous, gave her account of “how five people in a small fishing boat rescued the cetacean whom they later christened ‘Valentina'” in an article published by Earth Island Journal in August of 2011.
Watrous wrote that “several miles east past the southern tip of Carmen, Michael spotted something large and unmoving in the water. We moved near, a sense of seriousness quieting all of us,” adding that they discovered that “It was a young humpback whale entangled in a large, microfilament fishing net. Barely able to move, it was in a trance-like state of energy-conservation, trying to maintain just enough buoyancy to lift its blowhole out of the water to breathe between bouts of rest.”
The whale did not seem to notice us at first, and I must say, initially we thought we had come upon a the dead whale, afloat with decomposition gasses. After we sat by for several minutes, however, it let out a strained wheezing breath, showing sudden alarm at noticing our presence. We all felt a great concern for this immense and powerful life before us, entirely trapped in a 200-foot-long nylon body bag, helpless and near death.
We radioed the local Marine Park authorities but were told help would perhaps arrive in an hour. We knew couldn’t afford to wait that long. We briefly discussed the threats we faced if we undertook a rescue. We understood that cutting the whale free could take hours or days, and that without some level of cooperation from the whale, it was likely to prove futile and dangerous. But none of us wanted to be bystanders in the death of a whale we might be capable of releasing. So we began.
Thus began the rescue detailed in the video below, including the moment this young humpback whale put on an incredible show of ‘thanks’ for these heroic rescuers who saved it from dying tangled in those horrible fishing nets.
And when you get finished watching the clip, please be sure to check out the Great Whale Conservancy’s Facebook page and join them in helping to save these magnificent beings.