Whale returned to the sea in Nago after six-hour rescue effort by discoverer and Churashima Foundation employees

Whale returned to the sea in Nago after six-hour rescue effort by discoverer and Churashima Foundation employees

Employees from the Okinawa Churashima Foundation and the man who discovered the short-finned pilot whale moving the whale’s body to secure the whale’s airway. May 19, 9:45 a.m., Nago Bay

May 20, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


Nago – A rescue party was spontaneously formed on May 19 after a 4.85 meter-long short-finned pilot whale was found washed ashore at Nago Bay.

The rescue party included the person who initially discovered the whale and some employees from the Okinawa Churashima Foundation, and after a six hour effort, the whale was safely returned to the sea, swimming off in good condition.


Around 8:30 a.m. on May 19, Toru Oshiro, 44, from Nago City was headed north on Route 58 when he noticed a black shape moving in the water.

“I thought it might be a person drowning and I went closer, and that was when I saw the fin,” he said.

The whale closed its eyes in pain and moved its tail and dorsal fins and blowing out water.

The animal was injured, and blood was flowing out into the ocean.


At about 9:45, Osamu Higa from the Churashima Foundation animal control team arrived, and he and Oshiro combined their strength to right the whale’s body. Saying things like, “Don’t give up” and “Put your strength into it,” to the whale, they were able to move the whale’s body with some help from the waves and secure an open airway for the large ocean mammal.


After that, Higa spent a number of hours in the water, supporting the whale’s body.

The whale’s breathing, which was rapid when it was first found, gradually returned to normal. Nozomi Kobayashi from the Churahsima Foundation Research Center said, “A whale’s body is heavy, and when it dries out it puts extra strain on the organs, making it unable to get back into the water under its own power.

By getting it back into the water, its breathing was able to return to normal.”


Just after 2:00 p.m., some local fishermen arrived with a boat and helped get the whale back into the deeper waters of Nago Bay.

Oshiro, who first discovered the whale, said, “I am happy that we were able to get it back into the ocean healthy.”


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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