Mysticeti Miracle!

Over the past few weeks, any mention of a whale in the news has been attached to a pretty depressing report. It has been hard to miss the stories that no less than 6 sperm whales have washed up on our shores and tragically lost their lives. The reasons why are still undetermined, though we have our suspicions. Indeed, we suspect our own selves as being instrumental in these beachings. Those of us in the whale camp are quite decidedly down in the dumps and we need some good news, or at least some more uplifting news. So, here goes! But this story involves another whale, not the sperm whale, but the largest creature on our planet: the magnificent blue whale.

The location is Dapoli beach, India, which lies on the Arabian Sea. Usually a peaceful area, on this day, the waters just offshore were about to play host to a monumental battle. A battle that lasted for no less than 9 hours and involved a specimen that was no shorter than 40ft in length. To those present, it must have been a breathtaking yet nerve wrecking sight, as a blue whale lay stranded and fighting for its life. Perhaps to most, all seemed lost, after all, how on earth do you save an animal of that size from such a predicament? Well, that was one question that the local villagers were not about to leave unanswered.

The struggling whale was spotted in the shallow waters by a volunteer who belonged to the Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra conservation group. Realising the situation, they raised the alarm and quite literally rallied the troops. Running to the beach, men waded out into the sea, so that they were chest deep in water, to assist the whale. Others from the conservation group as well as villagers and forestry officials all joined in the effort to save the whale, and rather luckily for the whale, among them was a vet. Through some investigation, the vet discovered that not only was the whale beached, but he had been struck by infection. Acting quickly, an  injection was administered to help the whale and not long after, he began to show some signs of revival, beating his tail vigorously. This, of course, was a good sign. As the hours passed, this tale of heroism continued, with locals refusing to give up, monitoring the vital signs of the whale, all the while waiting for those waters to rise and trying to decide what to do.

When evening came, the tenacious group of locals had managed to involve two trawling vessels in their effort and attached a large rope to the struggling whale’s tale. However, this is the biggest creature on earth and this whale is thought to have weighed roughly 25 tonnes. Under such a weight, the rope almost inevitably, snapped. Not to be disheartened, they tried again, and once again, the rope snapped. But all was not lost, for by the third attempt, success reared its head! Slowly pulling the whale into the deep waters, he was taken off the sandy shore and back toward the safety of the ocean. Once he was safely free from the shallows, several swimmers dived down below the surface and untied the rope from the whale. After nine hours and a truly exhausting but herculean effort, they watched as the largest creature on earth swam away into the depths.

Most of them time our papers and news reports are full of tales of animal cruelty, illegal persecution and tragic events such as the recent whale beachings. All to often, human interactions with animals are painted in a negative light and we quite often deserve it, damaging ecosystems, introducing invasive species and killing magnificent creatures for no apparent reason. Therefore, it’s always a little uplifting to hear a tale like this one. For once, we can be proud of humans, pat those involved on the back and say: Well done guys. Good job.



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Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard
I have been a bird enthusiast since I was a child and have just completed my MSc at Newcastle University on 'Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management.'
Eleanor Daisy Upstill-Goddard

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