A dramatic whale rescue unfolded in British Columbia this week, as rescuers kept alive a stranded orca for eight hours until high tide returned. The female whale likely got stranded on rocks off the coast while chasing a seal, reports the Globe and Mail. Rescuers kept gawkers to a minimum to avoid stressing the whale, then poured water on her continuously over the hours. “Whenever she was crying out to her family, I would tell her that everything was going to be OK," says whale researcher Hermann Meuter. "I was just trying to comfort her."
Another observer tells the newspaper that "it was heartbreaking to hear the vocalizations—the whale was vocalizing distress calls." Meuter tells the CBC that the whale was stressed at first but eventually calmed down, seemingly realizing that people were trying to help her. Finally, the tide came in, and the whale slowly navigated her way from the rocks into deeper water and to safety. (Earlier this month, beachgoers in Massachusetts did much the same for a stranded great white.)