These images show how a Canadian wildlife officer single-handedly saved six beached whales by pushing them inch by inch back into the sea over the course of several hours.
Ryan Collier needed help for the last whale, which was the largest of the group and measured a whopping 14 feet.
The incident took place in Embree, which is a community just outside Lewisporte, a town in central Newfoundland on the eastern Canadian coast, on 22nd September.
Wildlife official and self-described “animal lover” Ryan Collier received a call from a local worker telling him that eight whales had beached the previous night when it was low tide.
The whales, long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), which are also known as pothead whales, were still alive when he arrived on the scene apart from one young calf which did not make it.
Collier is quoted in local media outlet KSBY as saying: “I couldn’t give up. I can’t remember how long I was there working on a few of them, but I’ll never forget when I let the first one go and gave it a push out into deep water.”
He added: “I just stood up and watched this guy swim off in deep water, and I was like ‘that’s fantastic, that’s one, let’s see if I can do another’.”
At first, Collier tried reaching the Department of Fisheries and Oceans because they were better equipped to handle the situation, but they reportedly told him that they would not be able to get to the scene for hours.
So Collier went to the beach, rolled up his sleeves, and got his hands dirty, gently nudging each whale, one by one, one inch at a time, back out to sea.
Thankfully, the tide started to come in and this was enough of a boost to help him direct the whales away from the shore so they could start swimming again.
After three hours, he had rescued six of the seven remaining whales, but hypothermia was beginning to set in, with Collier saying that he was “exhausted”.
Two of his fellow officers, named as Mitchell Gillingham and Ryan Knott, arrived on the scene to help him, giving him some time to go home, get dry and change gear before returning to help them push the last whale back into deeper waters.
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Collier told local media outlet The Central Voice: “It was definitely one of the highlights of my career even though it had nothing to do with my job whatsoever.”
The Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture Department of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada said in a statement on social media: “Resource Enforcement Officer Ryan Collier took action to rescue 7 pot head whales that had become beached in the Town of Embree. Officer Collier’s quick response and efforts over a 3-hour period allowed the whales to survive.” (sic)
They congratulated him and added: “A great job indeed!”
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Story By: Joseph Sexton, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
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