Rescue attempt underway to save whale stranded in Russian Far Eastern river

Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy is personally monitoring the operation to rescue the whale that became stranded in the river mouth in Russia’s Far Eastern Khabarovsk region, while specialists are considering options to get it back into deeper water during the night’s high tide, the ministry press service reported on Thursday.

“Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy personally monitors the situation, being updated on the course of the rescue operation. According to him, specialists are now working on options for returning the animal into its habitat, plans are to do this during the night’s high tide,” the report said.

According to the ministry, the whale is in a good condition. To avoid its dehydration, workers of the local nature reserve Shantarskiye Ostrova, who spotted the whale, are pouring water over it using fire-protection pumps.

A 13-meter great polar whale swam into the river flowing out of Lake Bolshoye on Bolshoi Shantar Island in the Khabarovsk region during a night high tide. Now it can neither turn round nor swim back into the lake. Specialists are consulting all renowned experts in rescuing marine mammals, including those from the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Olga Shpak, a research officer from the institute, told that all hopes were on the high tide overnight to August 11. She said there are two high tides a day in the area, but the first one was too low for the whale to refloat itself. “Now we will have higher water, at 4 am, local time (21:00 Moscow time on August 10). It if won’t be high enough, then most likely the end will be sad,” she added.

The research officer said specialists must exercise caution now, they must not approach the whale from the side of his tail. “It is very important not to have the frightened and disoriented whale swim downstream when this high tide begins, that is why I wrote to the national park asking them to deploy one or two boats and make noise, make barricades and frighten the whale off the coast,” Shpak explained.