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Whale calf pushed back into Arabian Sea after 40-hr effort as onlookers cheer
The operation involved the fire brigade, fisheries department, police, Indian Coast Guard, and local volunteers
In what is being billed as the first ever rescue operation of its kind, a massive whale calf (baby) which was stranded on Maharashtra's famed Ganpatipule Beach, about 340 km from Mumbai, on Monday 16 November, was finally rescued and pushed back into the Arabian Sea early on Wednesday, a local resident said.
The mammoth operation involved the district fire brigade, police, fisheries department, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and local volunteers who toiled to save the whale in the face of certain death after it was beached and lay helpless in the shallow sandy waters during low tide.
The hapless calf was noticed on the beach, stuck in the sand and furiously struggling to get into the sea, by some locals and tourists around dawn and they alerted the local police and fisheries department as well as the ICG which got into the act.
The baby mammal measured around 30 feet and was estimated to weigh more than four tonnes (4,000 kg), making it a difficult rescue mission. Two cranes were deployed to help out.
At one point, a team of veterinary doctors administered fluids to the bewildered and struggling baby to ensure it survived the ordeal.
The rescue teams tied belts and a rope net to haul it to deeper waters, though it reportedly suffered a minor injury near its tail.
Finally, after many hours of patience and hard work, the rescue teams managed to push it back from the sand, virtually inch-by-inch, until it could comfortably swim into the sea and return to its freedom in the deep waters — as loud cheers and claps went up from the assembled crowds of onlookers, locals, and tourists.
Officials monitoring the developments said that after it went back to safety in the deep waters, the calf was visible at least thrice at some distance from the beach and then finally disappeared into the sea, indicating that it was healthy and unharmed post-rescue.
Earlier, at least two rescue attempts proved unsuccessful and the calf was pushed back to the shore, compelling the rescuers to start over again until they conquered the challenge.