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Surfers Comfort Stranded Baby Whale Before Reuniting Him With Mom

A baby humpback whale was saved from certain death this week after becoming stranded on a stretch coastline in Australia - all thanks to a group of strangers who refused to watch him perish.

Surfer Blair McDonald was among the first to come to the young animal's aid as he thrashed around in a panic on the rocky shore. McDonald was soon joined by other surfers and beachgoers who'd gathered to mount a rescue attempt, but first he knew he had to reassure the frightened baby that they were there to help.

"I was trying to give him a rub and talk to it to keep it calm," he told the Coffs Coast Advocate. "We knew we were short on time because the tide was coming out and it was getting shallower and shallower, and the whale kept getting itself more and more bogged and getting itself cut up."

While the whale calf's mother waited helplessly offshore, the rescuers got to work. They tied a rope around his tail and pulled together as a team to inch him out back to deeper water.

Their heroic efforts were caught on video - but saving the young animal ultimately took more persistence than expected.

Twice the group was able to drag the baby whale with the rope into water deep enough to swim in, but both times he beached himself again. Rather than giving up on what was quickly seeming to be a hopeless mission, McDonald and the others opted for a different approach - this time using their body weight to guide the whale calf back to sea.

"We just decided to band together because we were racing against the clock and the mother was pacing up and down and we knew if she left the calf it had no chance, we just had to get it out," McDonald said.

Sure enough, their actions paid off.

The whale calf, exhausted and cut in places but alive, was last seen swimming out toward his parent - a reunion only made possible because of those who took the time to help.

"It's not every day you have to help a 4-meter long humpback whale calf that is beached on the rocks," McDonald wrote on Facebook. "We freed it successfully, so now it's over to mumma whale to keep it safe and help it recover. Massive thanks to everyone involved."