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Miracle rescue of stranded whale

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Recently, a 20-hour livestream had millions of Chinese netizens on the edge of their seats. This special live broadcast was focused on attempts to rescue a whale stranded on a beach in Zhejiang province.

On the morning of April 19, as fisherman Yang Genhe and his peers were preparing to head out to sea, they spotted a sperm whale measuring around 20 meters in length lying in the shallows. They immediately contacted the local maritime and fishery authorities, and within just two hours, whale experts across China and local professional rescuers had been rallied.

Yet, to be honest, successful attempts to rescue sperm whales of such a huge size are exceedingly rare around the world, let alone in China. For that reason, experts initially believed that the rescue was a long shot.

The whale’s life was at stake as the tide went out for six hours during the daytime. Rescuers repeatedly fetched buckets of water and doused the whale in a bid to keep it alive. Many fishermen also showed up at the beach and used their bare hands to splash water on the whale as there weren’t enough buckets. This was a very touching sight. They gently poured water over the whale’s body, being careful to avoid its nostrils and eyes, so that the stranded animal wouldn’t choke on sand. In the meantime, bamboo poles, netting and quilts were brought to the beach to construct a screen for the whale against sunlight and help keep it wet. Veterinarians also hooked the whale up to an IV drip. These efforts continued until the tide returned.

When the tide rose later that evening, the rescue team managed to tow the whale little by little into the water. People were surprised to see the sperm whale gradually regain its energy and blow a large column of water when it reached deeper waters.

The most touching thing during the whole rescue process was that everyone involved gave 100% effort, despite there being such little hope. They demonstrated those most basic of human emotions, namely, reverence for all living creatures and the instinct to cherish life.

In fact, whale strandings are relatively common around the world. Experts have made numerous investigations into why they happen, with theories such as noise pollution and environmental contamination having constantly been proved. From this perspective, growing public attention in China toward the stranding and rescue of whales also reflects people’s introspection and awareness toward issues concerning marine eco-system.

Yang Genhe said: “For generations we have been fed by the ocean, protecting the ocean and repaying its kindness are our greatest wishes.” An attitude like that is exactly what makes the miracle possible. When we treat the ocean the way we want to be treated, we bring hope to more lives as well as ourselves.

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