The ocean can be a dark and perilous place, but much less so when you have a friend.
Over the weekend, crew members aboard a whale-watching vessel off the coast of Long Island spotted an all-too-common sight -- a humpback whale that had become hopelessly entangled in fishing line, unable to swim. As they moved in for a closer look, they soon discovered that the whale, although desperately trapped, was at least not alone. The buddy-system, it seems, was in force.
Christine Callaghan, a guide with Pirate's Cove Whale Watch, says that what she saw unfold was "unforgettable."The two humpbacks, named Foggy and Grommet, are frequent visitors to the area, but the extent of their friendship wasn't known until that day. Callaghan writes that Foggy "had rope wrapped around her head and across her blowholes, and as we carefully approached, we could see that she also had a loop of rope across her peduncle (the narrow part of her tail, just ahead of the flukes), dragging a mass of old lobster traps beneath her."
Although the other whale could swim away, it never left Foggy's side. Instead, Grommet could be seen lifting out of the water as if to plead for help from the approaching humans.
"I will challenge anyone who claims that humans are the only intelligent, empathetic animals," says Callaghan.
Even after a disentanglement crew arrived to assess Foggy, Grommet continued to linger close by, observing their progress. Then, the rescuers cut the ropes, freeing the humpback from her grim predicament.
“Now comes the truly amazing thing… the instant the rope came off Foggy’s head, Grommet dove, and then burst from the water in a spectacular breach," Callaghan writes.
“Tell me that wasn't a celebration."
The two whales were last seen swimming together, side by side, out into the open ocean.
Via The Vanguard