Two beached humpback whales have been rescued by volunteers within a 48-hour period amid a “worrying trend of stranded marine animals being found in Argentina and Brazil in recent months”.
The beached whales were found in the coastal area of La Costa Partido in the eastern Argentine province of Buenos Aires on Sunday morning and Monday evening.
Volunteers with the Mundo Marino Foundation carried out the rescue operations with the assistance of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
The first humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was found on Sunday morning and 30 people took part in the successful rescue.
Mundo Marino Foundation biologist Sergio Rodriguez Heredia said the whale was a young female measuring 9.8 metres in length and weighing approximately eight tons.
He added: “Upon arriving at the scene to verify the animal’s situation, the primary support tasks were immediately carried out, they are to ensure the correct position of the specimen so it can breathe, and to keep the pectoral fins underwater to facilitate the stabilisation of its body temperature as much as possible.
“This became difficult as the whale, with the force of the waves, turned and had its blowhole underwater for a moment, being exposed to water entering its lungs. Thanks to the quick action and technical ability of the rescue team, they were able to quickly straighten it out.”
Using floats and special slings placed under the whale’s body, the rescuers managed to assist it back to open sea.
The Mundo Marino Foundation said in a statement: “Shortly afterwards, the animal began to swim under its own steam and managed to get away from the coast.”
Foundation vice president Andrea Cabrera said the rescue operation was “carried out in less than an hour and that is something that makes us very happy”.
On Monday evening, another humpback whale, a young male around 8.5 metres in length and weighing around seven tons, was found beached, and Foundation members arrived on the scene to monitor the animal’s situation.
Experts decided it was better to carry out the rescue operation at 6am the following morning when the team could work with better visibility.
The whale was in a stable condition and Foundation members monitored the situation until the rescue was successfully carried out early the next day.
Mundo Marino said: “Unfortunately, these events are not isolated cases and simply add to a worrying trend of stranded marine animals being found in Argentina and Brazil in recent months.”