Beached orca saved after hours on land in northern B.C.
Friday, July 24, 2015, 8:44 AM - A killer whale stranded onshore is back swimming in the sea thanks to the fast-thinking efforts of volunteers and researchers on the North Coast of British Columbia.
On Wednesday, an orca was spotted stuck on a pile of jagged rocks at low tide near Hartley Bay, a First Nations community south of Prince Rupert.
Members of a local group known as Cetacean Lab raced to the spot where the whale had been discovered by a colleague while he was out on his boat earlier that morning.
Unable to physically move the whale back into the water, rescuers found a way to bring the water to the whale.
Orca stranded on rocks at low tide in Hartley Bay. Courtesy of Whale Point/Facebook
"We decided the best thing to do would be to keep her cool, that meant to put water on her body," said Hermann Meuter, a co-founder of Cetacean Lab, in an interview with the CBC.
The group draped the orca's body with soaked towels and blankets in order to keep her wet and cool. Eric Keen, who initially discovered the beached cetacean, created a makeshift hose in order to pump a steady stream of water from the bay.
The orca cried often as the team went about their work, likely signalling to the rest of her pod waiting in the water nearby.
Volunteers wet towels and blankets in order to keep the orca cool and wet. Courtesy of Whale Point/Facebook
Rescuers use buckets and a makeshift hose to keep the orca hydrated. Courtesy of Whale Point/Facebook
With the help of members from the World Wildlife Foundation and local group Guardians of Hartley Bay, volunteers were finally able to calm the distressed whale.
"It was a team effort, and fortunately on some level this transient orca understood that we were trying to help," read a post on Cetacean Lab's Facebook page.
As the day wore on the tide began to rise, and by approximately 4 p.m. PDT, the orca was able to free herself and return to the open water after more than eight hours stuck on land.
The orca finally able to get free and swim away during high tide. Courtesy of Whale Point/Facebook
She quickly rejoined her pod, suffering a few scrapes on her body and tail fin from the sharp rocks.
As the whale was tagged, researchers onsite were able to positively identify the rescued orca as a nine-year-old female.
MUST SEE VIDEO: Killer whale takes bite out of paddleboard