A young gray whale found herself beached at Olympic National Park — and a horde of volunteers and scientists swept in to save her.
Volunteers and scientists freed a young gray whale this weekend that had washed up on the shores of Olympic National Park.
The 24-foot whale was released after responders from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and Olympic National Park, as well as the Cascadia Research Collective and other government agencies and nonprofits located the creature, kept it moist with cloths and saline baths, gave it B vitamins and anti-inflammatory medications and dug a trench, hoping the rising tide would float it back into the sea.
The plan worked.
In a prepared statement, John Calambokidis of Cascadia Research Collective said “a cheer went up in the darkness” as the team stood stunned at their success.
The whale is estimated to be around 2 years old — but whales like her, which travel from Alaska to Mexico to follow feeding grounds — are notoriously difficult to save once they’re beached. (Scientists estimate the North American gray whale population to be around 20,000. Another gray-whale population that migrates between the Sea of Okhotsk and South Korea, is estimated at about 130.)
“Rescuing large whales is inherently dangerous for both the animals and responders,” a news release from NOAA said. “Members of the marine mammal stranding network are highly trained in marine-mammal biology and health, safety protocols and emergency-response procedures.”
While Calambokidis was happy about the whale’s return to the ocean, he urged people to not approach stranded marine mammals, but to call the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network hotline at 866-767-6114.