Lifeguards spotted a young swimmer in trouble near a Maui beach last Wednesday, but he wasn't your average bather caught in the surf - he was a 25-foot-long humpback whale. The yearling whale seemed to cruise by with only his front flippers, a tough fishing line encircling his tail and shark bites on one fluke. The lifeguards, keeping a safe distance on jet skis, knew who to call: a group of Hawaiian biologists and officials who expertly disentangle caught whales.
Swift and precise, the rescuers are a bit like "a volunteer fire department," Ed Lyman, who coordinates the large animal emergency response of Maui's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Dodo. The team is a joint effort between several NOAA divisions - including NOAA Fisheries, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA Corps - as well as the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Maui police.
(Credit: J. Moore/NOAA)