After whale rescue, ‘heroes’ lives feel changed for the better

Tour boat workers reflect on their rescue efforts that saved a finback whale. Photo: La Jornada Maya
  • An 18-meter fin whale is rescued stranded off the coast of Isla Contoy. Photo: La Verdad

The morning of Aug. 4 positively changed the lives for 20  “proud islanders” who worked as a team to rescue a massive stranded whale on Contoy Island.

The heroic and ingenious effort was not in their normal line of work. The group that came from Isla Mujeres work for a tourist company called Caribbean Connection.

The 18-meter-long/60-foot-long fin whale is an endangered species, and the rescue near Faro Beach made headlines around the world.

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Dubbed “heroes without capes” by the local  media, the rescuers in the boats are Gilberto Ávalos Solís, Miguel Valdez Palma, Jesús Valdez Palma, Arturo Garrido Poot, Brisa Croce Ojeda, Martha Luisa Zapata Calderón, Omar Alejandro Nuñez Maldonado, Miguel Alkaid Ojeda Briceño, Raúl Gurubel, Francisco Canché, Luis Efraín Dzib Euan, Luis Armando Maldonado, Ángel Rosado Polanco, Víctor Castro Martínez and Gilmer Ojeda Canché.

In water were Pablo Valdez Palma, Eulogio Marín Núñez Maldonado, Ixchel Valdez Palma and Arturo Martínez Martínez.

Aldo José Álvarez Chaviano was in charge of the rescue work.

They said that when they learned of the stranded mammal, they felt both excitement and fear because they had never seen anything of that size in such a situation.

“We threw ourselves into the water without thinking about how he would react, but when we saw his condition we surround it. We saw that it had blood underneath its body,” explained Ixchel Valdez Palma.

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He added that people who dove into the water put their hands under the whale and found that it was completely stuck. He explained that they passed the ends of the rope under the whale and protected its fins with life vests to prevent him from being injured.

This work took them between 40 and 60 minutes and once they managed to pull it completely forward, the whale felt safe and was able to swim quickly.

Another member of the group, Luis Armando Maldonado, acknowledged that the whale, by its own weight, made them think that the rescue might not work. Happily, their techniques worked.

“When we took it out and saw it start to come out we escorted it, we made it like a fence as it went out into deeper waters,” explained Eulogio.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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