A killer whale stranded on rocks in Alaska was saved after a group of people spotted it and kept it wet until the tide rose

·3 min read
A killer whale stranded on rocks in Alaska was saved after a group of people spotted it and kept it wet until the tide rose
An orca laying on rugged rocks.
The orca was stranded above shoreline on rugged rocks. Danie Jay
  • A killer whale got stranded on rocks above the shoreline in Alaska on Thursday.

  • A group of people helped save the whale by spraying it with water until wildlife officials arrived.

  • Six hours after the orca was spotted ashore, the tide rose and it was able to swim out to sea.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A killer whale stranded on rugged rocks above the shoreline in Alaska on Thursday was saved after a group of people kept it cool with water until wildlife officials arrived.

The US Coast Guard was alerted Thursday morning that a 20-foot-long orca was stranded alive on a rocky shore of Prince of Wales Island, near the coast of British Columbia, Julie Fair, a spokesperson with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Insider.

The boat that reported the orca, which was four to five feet above sea level at the time, received instructions from NOAA that they could use seawater to keep the whale wet and keep birds away until wildlife officials arrived.

A live killer whale stranded on a rocky shore in the vicinity of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.
A live killer whale stranded on a rocky shore in the vicinity of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. Captain Chance Strickland and Crew of M/V Steadfast via NOAA

Local resident Tara Neilson told Insider that her niece, Aroon Melane, who was in the area visiting family, heard about the stranded whale and decided to go help. Melane and her friends used buckets to splash seawater onto the whale, which had also been injured on the rock.

Melane posted a video of the experience on her TikTok, where she said the whale started to get more "lively" after being splashed with water.

Fair said the stranded whale was also vocalizing at times, and that other killer whales were spotted in the nearby water.

The group in the boat anchored and was able to use a hose to spray the whale with seawater, Chance Strickland, the captain of a private yacht, told The New York Times. In addition to keeping the whale cool, the water helped keep away animals, like birds, that might have started eating it otherwise.

"I don't speak a lot of whale, but it didn't seem real stoked," Strickland told The Times. "There were tears coming out of its eyes."

A group of people spray a stranded killer whale with sea water in Alaska.
A group of people spray a stranded killer whale with sea water in Alaska. Jen Tee Photography

Officials eventually arrived and relieved the captain and crew of the M/V Steadfast, Fair said. NOAA experts had decided the best approach was to wait until the high tide came in, hoping that the whale would then be able to refloat and leave the rocky shore.

About six hours after the whale was spotted, the tide rose enough for it to swim back out to sea.

Canadian officials said the orca, known as T146D, was a 13-year-old juvenile Bigg's killer whale, also known as West Coast transients. There are about 400 individuals in the Bigg's orca population, which is known for hunting other marine mammals.

Killer whales stranded alive is uncommon, but does happen time to time, Fair said.

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