Community Comes Together To Rescue Stranded Whales In Indonesia

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Late last week, the residents of Probolinggo, East Java, in Indonesia, saw a strange and terrifying sight in the shallow water. For a reason still unknown, 30 short-finned pilot whales had wandered into the shallow water and become stranded. The water here was too shallow for them to survive and they were in immediate peril.

Whales may be massive, majestic animals, but like any other life-form, they’re also delicate and vulnerable in a lot of ways, especially to careless human activity. The Chilean Navy discovered that even a simple fishnet can endanger a whale when they rescued a humpback from one earlier this year.

But the residents of Probolinggo didn’t panic, nor did they ignore the anguished pod of whales. Instead, they jumped in to help — literally.

Headed by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), volunteers waded into the murky water to push the whales into deeper water and safety in a beautiful display of compassion and responsibility.

See the amazing work JAAN and the people of Probolinggo achieved by working together below.

[H/T: The Dodo]

Last week, 30 short-finned pilot whales found themselves stranded in the shallow waters near the coast of East Java in Indonesia.

No one knows exactly why they all ended up here, but the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) says that these whales are highly social, and so if one is in danger, the rest of the pod will come to help.

“They have very strong family bonds and will risk their lives striving to save their loved ones,” JAAN’s Facebook page explains.

It’s possible that one whale became stuck in the shallows, and the rest of them swam over to try and help, leading them all to get stuck. It’s also possible they were swept in by the tide.

Luckily, these whales have human friends who aren’t afraid to lend a hand.

Along with members of JAAN, volunteers from the community, as well as from other animal organizations, worked tirelessly to free the whales from the mud and get them back into the deeper water.

The volunteers were men and women of all ages, from young children to senior citizens.

Those who were not physically strong enough to pull the whales to safety offered them comfort with gentle pats and even hugs.

Of the 30 whales that were stranded, the team managed to get 20 to safety. Sadly, 10 of the whales perished.

The loss of 10 whales is tragic, but had it not been for the quick action of JAAN and the volunteers, the toll would have been much higher.

JAAN works to provide services for all kinds of animals in Indonesia, including both domestic and wild animals.

Here, volunteers are receiving training on how to properly and safely handle dolphins.

And this training came in handy when a dolphin got stranded in a river!

JAAN monitored this young female dolphin to make sure she found her way back to the ocean.

They’ve also been involved with saving some critically endangered animals, too, like these sea turtles.

It turned out that poachers had been illegally stealing eggs, killing turtles, and selling off their shells.

Luckily, the operation was shut down, and the sea turtles, like this hatchling, were released.

And their track record doesn’t stop there. They’ve even rescued a blue whale, the largest animal on the planet, as well as one of the most endangered whale species.

In October of 2o14, four blue whales, including an infant, were trapped in the bay and JAAN managed to get them out, but realized one of the mothers had lost her calf. They stopped to help her mourn before gently leading her back to the ocean.

But it’s not just the big animals, either. JAAN also extends its services to the small and the spiny, like in the case of this nervous pufferfish tangled in fishing line.

In addition to helping wild and marine animals, JAAN also works to rescue dogs and cats, and find them forever homes. Check out more of what they do on their website, as well as on Facebook.

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