A group of salmon farmers are going viral after they rescued a bald eagle that had been caught by an octopus near Vancouver Island in Canada.
According to CNN, the team of farmers was returning to their float house earlier this month when they heard the eagle screeching and splashing. Salmon farmer John Ilett told the outlet that once they figured out where the sounds were coming from, they found “a full-sized eagle submerged in the water with a big giant octopus in the water trying to drag it down.”
Video footage of the dramatic incident shows the octopus with its arms wrapped around the eagle, seemingly trying to drown it.
“We weren’t sure if we should interfere because it is mother nature, survival of the fittest,” Ilett told CNN. “But it was heart wrenching — to see this octopus was trying to drown this eagle.”
The salmon farmers eventually decided to step in and help the bird. As his other crew members recorded, Ilett reached out to the animals with a pole that had a small hook attached to the end.
“I was able to just latch on to the octopus and give it a little tug,” Ilett said. “It released its grip … which gave the eagle just enough time to get to shore.
Ilett told CNN that he’s been working on the water for almost 20 years.
“It’s moments like this why I love my job and being out in the environment where I can work and live,” he said. “It’s just amazing.”
Though bald eagles are no longer classified as an endangered species, they are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.