When it comes to news about orca whales, more often than not, the headlines detail the suffering of these animals in captivity. We know that orca whales are incredibly dynamic, emotional creatures and yet, we continue to hold these animals captive in tanks the size of fishbowls for the sake of our own entertainment. For this reason, most of the stories we hear involving orcas and humans involve people abusing or exploiting these majestic animals, this story, however, demonstrates the exact opposite.

A female orca whale became stranded on the rocks at Whale Point in British Columbia, Canada, after the tide went out and was completely unable to get herself back into the water. Thankfully, a team of whale researchers from Cetacean Lab were notified and set out to lend a hand.

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The orca was clearly in distress and cried out in agony. “We decided the best thing to do would be to keep her cool, that meant to put water on her body and we used blankets and sheets,” said Hermann Meuter, a co-founder of Cetacean Lab, in an interview with CBCNews.

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Trying to move the whale was out of the question given her weight and the jagged rocky surface. The team realized they would have to wait for the tide to come back in if they had a chance at releasing her back into the water without further injury.

At first, the orca was extremely agitated by the presence of the rescue team. Meuter recounts, “you could see that her breathing was getting a little faster.” But in time, she came to understand that the people were there to help her and she calmed down. To help keep her wet and cool, the team covered her with soaked blankets and rigged a makeshift water pump to keep a steady stream of water on her for a total of six hours!

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Despite the length of time ahead before the tide returned, the rescue team happily stayed in their place, ensuring that the orca was comfortable. Finally, around the 4 pm in the afternoon, the water level reached the rocks and the whale began to inch her way back into the shallow waters. “It took her about 45 minutes to negotiate how best to get off the rocks,” said Meuter. “We all just kept our distance at that point.”

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When she was finally submerged, the team breathed a much-anticipated sigh of relief. “We all cared about this whale and we were just very lucky to give that whale another chance,” said Meuter.

The incredible care and respect that this team showed to the needy whale is an example that we could all stand to learn from. All animals deserve to be treated as individuals worthy of a life free from harm and exploitation at the hands of people. We are so glad that this orca was able to return to the wild and live the life she was born to lead.

All image source: Whale Point/Facebook