Diver Saves Whale, Captures Rescue on Camera

Feb 8, 2012 11:42am

An orca whale caught in ropes off the coast of New Zealand was rescued by a local diver who managed to film the stricken whale while executing the rescue.

Rhys Cochrane, 20, came to the orca’s aid after his family’s dive business in the popular Hahei tourist area of New Zealand received a call Tuesday afternoon from the Department of Conservation that a mammal was in distress and needed help.

Cochrane drove a dive boat to the orca’s location off the Coromandel Peninsula and found the orca, said to be a female between 6 and 8 years old, tangled in the ropes of a cray pot, a device used to trap lobsters and crayfish.

“It had cuts all over its head from the rope … and down the tail there were a few rope burns and I could see blood from where the rope was,” Cochrane told New Zealand’s TV3.

Cochrane said the orca looked tired and distressed, leading him to believe the animal, also known as a killer whale, had tried to drag the cray pot up to the surface and become entangled in the ropes in the process.

Once at the scene, Cochrane grabbed both his camera and a knife to film the animal just as he went to its rescue. “I jumped in the water to see how it was tangled and noticed it was tangled around the tail, which means it could be cut free,” Cochrane said.

The whale was free minutes later and no worse for the wear, suffering only a few cuts to its head, body and tail and quickly swimming away back into the open water.

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