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Entangled Orca Rescued In Newly Released Footage

Researcher Ingrid Visser, Ph.D., doesn't just study orca whales from books, or even from a boat. She swims with orcas, she rescues them and she even dreams about them. As the first scientist ever to study New Zealand's population of orcas, Visser has long been an authority on the animals.

She runs the Orca Research Trust on the Tutukaka Coast in Northland, New Zealand, as well as a rescue program in the country's waters. When people call her "orca hotline," Visser and her team rush to the site where an orca is trapped, often in the shallows or stuck in fishing gear. For one such event, a team of filmmakers was there to capture the daring rescue. The rescue was originally reported in September, but the newly released footage shows it like never before.

While other vigilant members of the pod watched close by, the team came across a 35-year-old orca they had seen multiple times before. The female, known to researchers as Dian, was stuck floating in the water with rope wrapped around her tail.


With some maneuvering, Visser was able to cut the whale free and watch her swim off with her pod.


"There's really no words that describe what it's like to save an orca's life," Visser says in the footage.

See the rescue and an inside look at Visser's long career with the whales of New Zealand below:

While much of Visser's research focuses on wild whales, she's also been a staunch voice against keeping orcas in captivity. She argues for the retirement of captive orcas to seaside sanctuaries so they can live in more natural environments and, if possible, be reintroduced back into the wild.

"I'm hoping that before the end of my academic career, we'll no longer have them in captivity, because we'll really understand them a lot better," she says in the video.