There are only 350 Northern Right Whales in existence, and on July 14, we almost lost one more of these enormous creatures. Luckily, we have Adrian Colaprete to thank for heroically saving one of these endangered animals from certain death.
Captain Pat Foster and his fishing buddy Adrian Colaprete were aboard their charter boat, about 50 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, when they saw two buoys close together and moving against the current.
They thought it looked strange, so they decided to investigate. When they got closer, they realized that there was a whale caught up in this mess; it seemed to be tangled in fishing ropes or lines and was slowly dragging a pile of fishing gear behind it.
The team identified the whale as a Northern Right Whale, an endangered species. Since it was clear that the whale was in serious danger, they knew they had to do something to help.
After watching the whale’s movements, the two decided Colaprete, an experienced diver, would get in the water with the whale and take a closer look. Once in the water, he sensed that the whale was welcoming his help and quickly made the decision to cut the rope tangling the whale to the line of fishing gear. After the rope was cut, the fishing gear sank to the bottom of the ocean, and the whale swam away free.
This is one lucky whale!
He also captured the whole thing on video, which you can watch here:
“It was kind of scary at first, but it was real trippy,” Colaprete told a local news station. “As soon as the whale caught up past me and I was parallel to its face and eye, it kind of stopped, which was a trip. He kind of gave me a little window to get down there [to the tangled rope].”
In the whaling heydays of the 18th and 19th centuries, Northern Right Whales almost became extinct; in fact, their name “right whales” comes from whalers who identified them as the “right” whale to kill on a hunt. That’s because they had enormous value for their plentiful oil and baleen, and also because of their thick blubber, which enabled them to stay helpfully afloat after they had been killed.
According to Treehugger:
Although Northern right whales have slowly been making a comeback since hunting them was outlawed, human activity continues to be an inadvertent threat to their survival. Each year, biologists record around ten whale deaths from boat strikes and fishing gear entanglements — no small number considering just how few of these creatures remain.
Thanks to the quick-thinking actions of Pat Foster and Adrian Colaprete, however, that grim tally will be less one whale.
Photo Credit: online video at WAVY.com