Recently a young orca was rescued from entanglement in “cray pot” lines in New Zealand, a story made more touching by the fact that when the rescuers arrived on the scene the juvenile orca’s pod was involved in helping the young whale to stay alive. The orcas seemed to understand that the people were trying to help, and waited quietly while the juvenile was freed:
Men rescue tangled orca
“A juvenile orca that got tangled in cray pot ropes was “on its last legs” before being rescued off the coast of Kaikoura yesterday…”When we got there the whole pod was nursing it [the baby] along. They were cradling it, it was really amazing they were holding it up.
…As the rescuers arrived the whole pod disappeared, including the baby, he said…”It was pretty distressed, it was hanging upside down when we found it.”
As the baby orca came to the surface the rest of the pod lined up. “The whole pod was in a line observing and they were very calm. “They sort of seemed to know,” he said. As they lifted the baby orca towards the surface there was a lack of resistance, Mr Walford said.
“It was on its last legs, it would have definitely drowned but the pod seemed to have been bringing it to the surface,” he said.”
Back in 2005, a handful of courageous divers freed a humpback whale that had become entangled in crab pot lines in an area known to be great white shark habitat, and those divers were rewarded with individual acknowledgments from whale before she disappeared into the depths. Whether or not the whale was expressing gratitude, the divers all agreed that they had experienced something momentous in the contact, and talked about how unforgettable it was to look into the eyes of the whale.
Although stories of entanglement are all too frequent, our efforts to help seem to be understood by the whales and dolphins, and hopefully make up in some small way for all that they have suffered at human hands.