Humpback Whale Gives 'Thank You' Performance to Rescuers

Humpback whale became tangled in a net in the Sea of Cortez off Baja, Calif.

July 30, 2011, 7:39 PM

July 30, 2011 — -- A team of researchers received a magnificent "thank you" in the form of amazing jumps and dives from a whale they helped to rescue.

The humpback whale became tangled in a nylon net in the Sea of Cortez off Baja, California.

"When we first approached the whale, she was in horrible shape…The decision to rescue the whale came slowly. We knew there was a risk. But we decided to go for it," said Michael Fishbach, co-director with the Great Whale Conservancy.

His team worked from their boat to cut the whale loose from the netting with a small knife. Fishbach was able to get the whale's dorsal fin free.

With the whale partially freed, it started swimming with the boat for about a half hour.

"She kind of knew we were her chance, we were her lifeline," Fishbach said.

After an hour, the whale was finally free.

Fishbach said the moment that the whale was released from the netting, that's when the show began.

Captured on video, the whale leaped at least 40 different times in and out of the water for the next hour.

"It was a magnificent life form on this planet which was really on the brink of death was free and was just showing its joy of being alive," Fishbach said.

On the video a little girl could be heard describing the scene.

"Mommy, I know what she's doing," she said. "She's showing us that she's all free."

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