A 65-foot whale was towed back into the ocean from a Chinese beach after a 20-hour rescue operation.
On Tuesday morning, it was discovered on a beach in Ningbo, south of Shanghai. Initially, the whale was thought to be an orca. The massive mammal would not survive for long if people did not act quickly.
Bruce Mate, emeritus professor of fisheries, wildlife, and conservation at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, noted that sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) strandings are difficult, and these animals do not always survive even after being saved.
“Good on them for making a noble effort in trying to get this animal back to sea,” Mate told Live Science, “but the odds are quite difficult.”
Despite breathing oxygen like land mammals, whales require water to stay cool. Furthermore, beached whales risk drowning if the rising tide covers their hole or collapses under their own weight.
The rescue operation lasted nearly a full day.
The whale was reportedly in critical condition when it was discovered on the shoreline near Xiangshan County in Ningbo. To keep the whale alive, firefighters sent out a rescue team, which doused its 20-meter-long body in water and created a pool of seawater in a trench.
Rescuers built a trench pool filled with seawater to keep the whale alive.
Despite their commitment to the whale’s survival and rescue, it wasn’t going to be as simple as keeping it alive. The volunteers were unable to simply drag it out to sea or tow it away with a boat because it weighed an estimated 10 tons.
Finally, volunteers dug a tunnel around the whale’s body to keep it hydrated while they devised a solution and laboriously poured water into it.
Whales washed ashore face dehydration or death due to their own weight.
The whale was then towed to shallow waters by the team using guide ropes. When the tide finally rose high enough around 10 p.m., the rescuers were able to use five boats to drag the whale deep enough into the water to keep it alive after 20 hours of nonstop struggle.
The rescue team cut the hauling cable and released the whale in deep waters around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
The whale weighs approximately ten tons.
The whale was eventually dragged back into deeper waters.
The whale could be seen swimming out into the distance after the dramatic rescue operation, as the sun rose with the help of the boats and the tide. Leave a comment in the box below to show the whale how much you appreciate its existence.