It was not an ordinary day on Rasa Beach outside the Rio capital. A baby humpback whale lay crying and flailing on the shore, while over 300 people came to its rescue, throwing buckets of water over the animal to keep it from overheating. After it was successfully refloated and released into the South Atlantic ocean, the marine mammal seemed to say “thank you” in the most wonderful way.
The distressed baby humpback whale was found beached by residents on Wednesday. In an incredible joint effort, over 300 people mobilized in order to save the life of the beached calf.
Stranded ashore, the marine mammal was unable to move, being accustomed to the ocean’s buoyancy, which would have kept the 32-foot, 7-ton marine mammal afloat.
Great care had to be taken to prevent damage to its internal organs. Biologists said the calf was having breathing troubles, but was still struggling to survive, moving about and opening its eyes.
The mammoth task of digging the sand out from around the calf, allowing seawater to flow in and refloat the baby, was performed by willing hands and hearts.
Concerned locals rented JCB diggers, which joined in the excavation.
The incident was covered by Mr. Karolla for local paper Folha de Buzios.
Karolla complained that environmental authorities were slack in their response to offer assistance to help save the whale. Fortunately, the fire brigade and environmental experts stepped in.
It took the whole morning to rescue the stranded calf. Eventually, ropes were slung around its body in an effort to lift it into the sea with heavy machinery.
A video captures the amazing moment when the whale was finally refloated. People threw their arms up for joy, many in tears, as the humpback began swimming and splashing on its own back into the South Atlantic.
They screamed in elation when the baby whale seemingly “thanked” its rescuers with a wave of its flipper before returning to the deep sea. It had been beached for almost 24 hours.
People congratulated each other on the successful rescue afterward.
“The animal does not have any scars or marks indicating it’s had a collision with a vessel,” biologist Marcelo Rodrigues Tardelli told G1. “Maybe the animal was traveling with her mother and was lost during the strong undertow of the last two weeks.”
In the months of July through till November, humpback whales come close to the shores of Rio to mate, before returning to the open sea. Experts believe the baby was separated from its parents while migrating near the Rio coast en route to Antarctica.
Watch the video of the incredible rescue taken by photographer Bebeto Karolla: