An amazing and wonderful video that I came across a few years ago: Michael Fishbach, co-founder of The Great Whale Conservancy, his family and friends rescued a Humpback Whale from fishnets, and after being freed, the whale shows amazing appreciation to the rescuers.

The Great Whale Conservancy was launched in 2010 to advocate for the great whales, they need our help and protection to survive, to learn more about our current efforts, and find out how we can work together.

Fishbach spends two months in the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) every winter, photographing the Blue Finback whales and Humpback whales, to help track these magnificent animals across our oceans while observing their complex behaviors in the wild.

On February 14, 2011, Michael, his family, and a few friends were presented with a rare opportunity, a chance to save the life of a Humpback whale, their efforts were captured on film, here is their incredible story.

Video: Humpback Whale Thanks Rescuers After Being Freed From Nets

Humpback whale shows AMAZING appreciation after being freed from nets

“On Valentine’s Day, while plying the waters of the Sea of Cortez, I came upon a young Humpback Whale that appeared to be dead.”

“We floated next to the whale for several minutes, but we saw no signs of life, suddenly the whale rose slightly in the water and forcefully exhaled. I decided to ease into the water with my snorkeling gear in order to assess the situation.”

“I quickly discovered the whale was severally entangled in a gill net of the type used by local fishermen. As I swam alongside the animals our eyes met, there were no words we could share, but I wanted to let the whale know that we were there to help.”

“It took some effort to stay focused given the great emotion of the moment, the sight of this large and beautiful creature trapped and so close to death was almost overwhelming, and I must admit, I was a bit scared because I knew the whale was frightened and fatigued, but could still kill me with one panic movement. The situation was indeed bleak, the tail was entangled and so much gear, it was weighed down a full 15 feet below the surface, both pectoral fins were pinned to the side of its body and the nylon gill net went all the way up the whale’s back forward of the dorsal fin.”

Size comparison of an average human and a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
“I was a bit scared because I knew the whale was frightened and fatigued, but could still kill me with one panic movement”. Size comparison of an average human and a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). By Jjw – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

“…it seemed too greater a task, so I went back aboard to radio for help. We were told that perhaps in an hour someone would arrive and we all knew that by then it might be too late. While I was working around the pectoral fin, my boat mates George and Vera managed to get some of the nets pulled over the side of our panga (boat). I came back aboard and we pulled and cut the net as fast as we could, we were maneuvering the boat into proper position with the pedal and only had one small knife, but after a great effort managed to free one of the pectoral fins.”

“Sensing a spark of freedom the young whale started to swim taking us on a Nantucket Sleigh Ride through the Sea of Cortez for about a half of a mile.”

“The whale eventually tired and came back up, right underneath us.”

“We continued to grab more and more net and haul and cut and after nearly a half-hour the other pectoral fin came mostly free.”

“And when the whale tired we began cutting the net off the powerful tail fluke.”

“Finally after about an hour of exhausting work, we decided we had enough net aboard to make the final cut, we were hoping enough net was off the fluke to free her.”

“She slowly swam away but about 500 feet from our boat we breached high into the air, I cleared all the net from underneath the boat and we headed off five tired but exhilarated people with a boatload of nylon netting.”

“For the next hour, she provided us with an incredible full surface display we saw at least 40 breaches as well as tail lobs, tail slaps, and pectoral fin slaps.”

“We followed her for about four miles over the next hour and said goodbye. Needless to say, we were all proud and thrilled that we saved this fantastic young life, it was an incredible experience that none of us will ever forget.”


M. Özgür Nevres

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