A POD of four Orcas have been rescued in Sakhalin, a Russian Island in the North Pacific Ocean. The animals became trapped in large thawing chunks of ice that had been pushed towards the shore by strong winds and tides.
Rescue workers and local volunteers spent two days and nights chipping at ice blocks to forge a clear path for the orcas to reach open water. The largest of the orcas, measuring seven metres in length and lovingly christened Willy by the national press, was the last to be freed due to his size.
Concerns over his well-being grew and he spent his second night trapped in the ice covered by a tarpaulin awning to maintain a steady body temperature. Furthermore, a specialist vet was called in to cover Willy’s wounds, caused by sharp ice-block edges, with Vaseline.
Local news services report that it was thanks to the massive communal effort of professionals, volunteers and tourists that the animals have managed to safely return to the ocean. Considering the temperatures in this part of Russia still fall below zero at night, the dedication of the rescue services, who spent two nights in the water together with the orcas, is admirable.