Sea Shepherd crewmember David Blanchard assisted in the rescue of a Humpback whale in Tonga last Friday, September 14th.
A baby Humpback was found stranded on the beach at Nuku Namu Island in Ha'apai. After an eight hour effort by the owners and guests at the Matafonua Lodge as well as local Tongans, the whale was rescued and released into the high tide.
The rescue was captured in an astonishing video, edited by Matafonua Lodge owner Darren Rice, an underwater photographer. "We were lucky enough to have three vets and David Blanchard, a member of the Sea Shepherd crew, with us here at the resort," said Darren, who has published the video and images on the Matafonua Lodge Facebook page.
The volunteers including local Tongans helped to keep the whale cool and wet until they were able to lift it on sheets back into the tide at 4:45pm. "The baby swam away strong and could be heard vocalizing, possibly calling for its mother. It was last seen heading for deep water. Many thanks to all that helped. This was a truly amazing experience that will change all our lives. Good luck to the little guy that lay so patiently and waited for the high tide," he said.
This was the first time Darren can recall a stranding in Ha'apai. Humpback whales come to Tonga from the Antarctic to mate and give birth in Tonga's warm waters where they can be seen during the annual migration season that runs from July to October. By September the whales are heading south with their babies back to Antarctic waters.
Photo and Video of the rescue