The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped an orca, which was stranded on a rock beach on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, Thursday morning. Other sailors were also nearby.
According to NOAA spokesperson Julie Fair, the killer whale that was stranded on the rocks was discovered by the Steadfast, a nearby ship. They “authorized them use a seawater pumps to keep the whale dry and birds away,” Julie Fair stated.
The crew of the boat kept watch on the whale, until an NOAA officer arrived and Alaska Wildlife Troopers arrived.
Fair stated that the killer whale sometimes screamed during the stranding and other killer whales were seen in the area.
According to NOAA, the orca was able to refloat as high tide arrived on Thursday afternoon. Bay Cetology, a Canadian conservation group, was able to determine it was a 13-year-old juvenile Bigg’s killer whale they previously monitored and identified as T146D.
Fair stated that NOAA is currently reviewing video and photos of the killer whale in order to determine whether it is injured. The animal was beached less than a day after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Alaska, but NOAA does not believe that caused the killer whale to become stranded.
A TikTok user who goes by the name Aroon Melane shared a video showing people helping keep the orca wet until NOAA arrived and said the whale was able to swim free once the tide returned.
“We heard that there was a killer whale on the beach so we decided to find it.” Melane explains that NOAA granted permission to keep the orca moist and safe from other animals until they arrived. “We were trying to get a pump and hose working. To keep the orca hydrated, we used buckets. After we added water, the orca began to be more active.
She added that the killer whale was trapped for approximately six hours.
Bay Cetology reports that this is not the first instance of a Bigg’s killer Whale getting stuck on rocks.
“Our research on this specific topic published last year shows that all killer whales live stranded along the west coast of North America in the last 2 decades have been of the Bigg’s ecotype and all of them survived, sometimes with a little help,” the conservation group said.
Transient killer whales hunt sea lions, according to the Alaska Department Fish and Game. They can often find themselves live stranded “in pursuit of prey,” a Bay Cetology research study said, adding that while human help isn’t always needed, it can often save the lives of the killer whales as well as their family bonds.
It is not clear how the orca got stranded, or if it was hunting seals that caused it to get stuck.