+
Most Shared

Real-life superheroes rescued a whale after she stranded herself on a rocky shore.

It's almost like there's more to rescuing whales than “Free Willy" led us to believe.

In late July 2015, sailors spotted an orca stranded near Hartley Bay in British Columbia.

Thousands of whales and dolphins get stranded, entangled, or beach themselves each year. And while this story has a happy ending, many animals aren't so lucky.


"Recalculating..." The stranded orca on the rocks in Hartley Bay.

To learn more about how and why incidents like this happen and what animal lovers can do to help, I spoke with Steve Whitehouse of Queensland, Australia, who is the stranding rescue and technical adviser for Whale Rescue.

There are lots of reasons whales strand themselves. Sometimes, it's as simple as taking a wrong turn.

Whales strand for a host of reasons, including illness or navigational errors. They may misread the height of the rocks or the depth of the shore while swimming.

"This orca? [She] was probably just chasing fish. It's quite a common scenario," Whitehouse told me.

Windy weather, loud noises, and echolocation glitches can also result in strandings. Rescuers have to be careful though, because if a pod leader separates from the group, others will follow. This can sometimes lead to a mass stranding.

Whitehouse and his partner Brenda at the scene of a mass stranding at Farewell Spit, South Island New Zealand in February. 69 pilot whales came ashore. 67 were re-floated and saved. Photo by Steve Whitehouse for Whale-Rescue.org.

When whales are beached or stranded, trained professionals and volunteers help by keeping the animals cool and calm.

According to Whitehouse, every rescue is unique, but each one centers on getting the animal re-floated safely.

In the case of the stranded orca in Hartley Bay, whale researchers and volunteers covered the orca with wet blankets and kept her hydrated with buckets of chilly water. They stayed by her side, keeping her cool and calm, for eight hours!


Volunteers pour cold water on the orca to keep her calm and cool.

When the tide comes in, some whales are able to free themselves, while others need a little boost.

With help from the volunteers and a nudge from high tide, the orca in Hartley Bay was successfully able to wriggle free from the rocks. She gave a spray of appreciation and joined her pod in the distance.

GIFs from "The National."

But other stranding situations are a little more complicated. 32 years ago, Whitehouse designed an inflatable whale rescue pontoon. The unique vessel is a modular device consisting of a mat and two inflatable tubes.

"It's like a big set of water wings," he told me.

Whitehouse's device in use rescuing pilot whales in New Zealand. Photo by Steve Whitehouse for Whale-Rescue.org.

When used by rescue workers, the device simulates high tide, by gently lifting the whale up so it can be re-floated safely.

Whitehouse's invention is used in 14 countries and has saved thousands of animals. "Its become standard equipment now," he said.

Whitehouse's inflatable pontoon was used to rescue a stranded whale that made his way to the River Thames in London. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

If you see a stranded marine animal, the best thing you can do is call a professional or rescue group with your location.

Until an expert can assess the situation, it's safer for you and the animal if you stay at least 50 feet back and call in the location of the creature in distress.

If you must assist, foster a heartwarming relationship with the whale, teach him to perform tricks, and help him triumphantly return to the sea 72 minutes later. At least, that's what "Free Willy" taught me, and movies never lie.

GIF from "Free Willy."

Of course, I'm kidding. Many of these creatures are endangered or at risk, so every minute counts. If you see a stranded marine animal, just call your local stranding hotline as soon as possible.

See footage of the Hartley Bay orca's successful rescue in this short video from "The National":


Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This company makes it easier than ever to enjoy guilt-free fairly traded coffee

Thanks to Lifeboost, good coffee can be good for everyone.

Unsplash

Lifeboost coffee

Americans love coffee. Like, we really, seriously, truly love it. According to one recent survey, 75 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee at least occasionally, while 53 percent—about 110 million people—drink it every single day. For some, coffee is an essential part of their morning ritual. For others, it’s something they enjoy when they hit the proverbial wall in the late afternoon. But either way, millions of people use coffee to boost energy, focus, and productivity.


Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

13-year-old ventriloquist sings incredible, sassy version of 'You Don't Own Me' on 'AGT'

Ana-Maria Mărgean only started her hobby in 2020 and is already wowing audiences on "America's Got Talent."

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Ana-Maria Mărgean singing "You Don't Own Me" on "America's Got Talent"

It’s not every day a ventriloquist act is so jaw-dropping that it has to be seen to be believed. But when it does happen, it’s usually on “America’s Got Talent.”

Ana-Maria Mărgean was only 11 years old when she first took to the stage on “Romania’s Got Talent” to show off her ventriloquism skills, an act inspired by videos of fellow ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 champion Terry Fator.

Using puppets built for her by her parents, the young performer tirelessly spent her quarantine time in 2020 learning how to bring them to life, which led to her receiving a Golden Buzzer and eventually winning the entire series in Romania.

Mărgean is now 13 and a competitor on this season of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” hoping to be crowned the winner and perform her own show in Vegas, just like her hero Fator.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Linda Ronstadt's 1970's ballad is a chart-topping hit once again thanks to 'The Last of Us'

The iconic 70s song "Long, Long Time" was an integral part of an unforgettable episode that fans are calling a masterpiece.

Linda Ronstadt (left), Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (right)

HBO’s emotional third episode of the zombie series “The Last Of Us” became an instant favorite among fans, thanks in no small part to Linda Ronstadt’s late 1970s ballad, “Long, Long Time.”

Using the song as the episode’s title, “Long, Long Time,” moves away from the show’s main plot to instead focus on a heartbreakingly beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), from its endearing start all the way to its bittersweet end.

The song makes its first appearance during the initial stages of Bill and Frank’s romance as they play the tune on the piano, just before they share their first kiss.

We see their entire lives together play out—one of closeness, devotion, and savoring homegrown strawberries—until they meet their end. The song then plays on the radio, bringing the bottle episode to a poignant close.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

34-year-old man is learning to read on TikTok in series of motivational videos

His reading skills have improved so much that he plans to read 100 books this year.

@oliverspeaks1/TikTok

Oliver James is the biggest star on BookTok.

With over 125,000 followers, 34-year-old Oliver James is a star in the BookTok community. And it all started with a very simple goal: Learn to read.

For most kids, school is a place where they can develop a relationship with learning in a safe environment. For James, school was the opposite. Growing up with learning and behavior disabilities subjected him to abusive teaching practices in special education, which, of course, did nothing to help.

"The special education system at the time was more focused on behavioral than educating," he told Good Morning America. "So they spent a lotta time restraining us, a lotta time disciplining us, a lotta times putting us in positions to kinda shape us to just not act out in class."

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less