A 20-foot orca stranded on rocks in Prince of Wales Island, Ala., was freed Thursday with the help of wildlife officials, nearby sailors, and an incoming tide.
Boaters near the shore spotted the stuck whale in a crevice of rocks almost 5 feet above the tide line, according to CNN. The crew notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which authorized them to use a seawater pump to keep the orca wet and birds away from the whale.
TikTok user Aroon Melane shared a video documenting the rescue effort, showing the crew pouring buckets of water on the stranded orca.
“We were working on getting a hose and pump to work,” Melane says in the video. “In the meantime, we used buckets to keep the orca wet.” Thankfully, Melane says the whale became more lively after the crew put water on them.
Six hours after the initial spotting, the orca finally returned to the sea thanks to the tide. Once it came in, the seawater rose high enough for the whale to detach from the rocks and swim away.
NOAA spokeswoman Julie Fair told CNN that NOAA will examine photos and videos taken during the rescue to determine whether the whale was injured.
It’s still unclear what caused the beaching. Less than a day before, an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of southwestern Alaska, but NOAA does not believe it caused the orca to become stranded. No other whales were beached, but “at times during the stranding, the killer whale was vocalizing and other killer whales were spotted in the vicinity,” Fair told CNN.
Kudos to the good Samaritans who spent their day keeping this orca safe!