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.

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

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":


Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.