Foreign walked his dog on a certain stretch of the coast of his home island every single day in any weather, even though Scotland had a rather harsh climate. Bad weather couldn’t scare off the man and his dog. He always got annoyed at the amount of garbage on the beach. Sea waves washed ashore a huge number of plastic bottles, bags, rubber, and metal parts of various products, remains of nets, etc. All this trash covered the beaches, spoiling the view of the beautiful Green Island.
Therefore, Sean always brought garbage bags on his walks, as did most of the locals. They collected the garbage and took it to the sorting station in the city, from where it was taken to the central island for recycling and disposal.
During one of his walks, Sean stumbled upon a lifeless carcass of a sperm whale. The creature lay motionless, blocking the horizon. The man didn’t hesitate and called the animal rescue team. Then he hung around, waiting for the patrol boat to arrive. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the animal. Apparently, the sperm whale beached itself at night, so there was nothing the rescue team could do about it. Sean stood on a high hill, watching people fuss over the huge carcass. The man felt extremely sorry for the majestic animal.
Suddenly, Sean had an idea. Yes, it’s all over for the sperm whale, but there are dozens of other living creatures in the ocean. What if they are also in danger? Maybe they can be saved. Sean quickly found his former classmate’s phone number. Once, when they were little boys, they used to run around on the beach and dream of traveling around the world. The boys even built a raft from some boards and empty canisters once and used it to sail out into the ocean. The raft was picked up by the current and got carried away in an unknown direction as there was no way to control it. Soon, the boys were spotted by some fishermen. They helped the unfortunate sailors and brought them home.
Many years have passed since then, and life had scattered the best friends around the world, but the men still kept in touch. Sean had recently returned to his native island. He didn’t plan on staying long, but he felt at home there. Everything was so familiar that he didn’t want to leave that place anymore.
Hudson, on the other hand, decided to connect his life with the ocean. He started studying marine animals and was very successful in their research field. By that time, he had become a member of an organization that investigated the deaths of whales and dolphins.
Sean tapped the toe of his boot on the ground, listening impatiently to the sound of the long beeps coming from his phone. “Not that I’m not happy to hear from you, but not this early in the morning,” a sleepy voice on the other end of the line finally replied. Lost in his thoughts, Sean forgot all about what time it was, and it was very early in the morning. No one got up that early in the capital where his friend lived. Sean apologized for waking up his friend and told him about the beached sperm whale.
Hudson seemed very interested in what had happened and promised to come by with the team soon. And indeed, within just a few hours, the ocean shore was filled with people in uniforms. They took measurements of the whale, argued about something, called someone, and seemed very agitated. When Sean came back to the beach, his friend came out to greet him. They shook hands, and Hudson shared the latest news.
“We had to perform an autopsy to find out the reason why the sperm whale was beached,” Hudson began the conversation. “You know our team has seen a lot, but this case is shocking even by our standards.
The animal’s entire stomach was filled with garbage. We found everything there—plastic, polyethylene, fishing tackle, nets—you name it. We can’t say for sure if the sperm whale beached itself because of the garbage it had eaten, but it could definitely be the cause. It also happens that whales get frightened by loud underwater sounds, so that’s another reason that could have caused it to beach itself. Whatever it was, the situation is very bad.”
“What do you mean?” Sean asked.”A few years ago, about 200 whales got beached on the coast of Scotland. Last year, the number of beached whales exceeded 900 individuals, and many of them were calves that got entangled in nets,” the friend explained.
“But this giant clearly is an adult, not a calf,” Sean nodded his head towards the beach.
“No, but it’s a female,” Hudson shook his head sadly, “and it may well be that its calf is somewhere nearby. We’ve already called in a helicopter and a search boat to help us look for it. If there’s a whale calf around, then we need to find it.”
After lunch, the search vessel with the helicopter on board moored to the island. Sean volunteered to join the organization’s team. The scientists examined the waters of the beach, which became the last refuge of the sperm whale. Until it got dark, they didn’t find anything. From the air, sonar showed only small objects and outlined the empty bottom of the bay. All their researchers stayed on the island for the night because the next day, they planned on getting back to inspecting the area. Hudson stayed at Sean’s house. He was carefully examining the maps of the coastal waters. The man was outlining a rough search plan, frowning constantly. He was distracted from his research by a cup of hot tea which the hospitable friend placed in front of the guest.
“Any problems?” Sean asked.”I don’t know,” the friend sighed. “You see, if the calf is free, it wouldn’t have swum far from its mother. The fact that we still haven’t found it might be a bad sign. For example, it could have gotten entangled in some nets, and then who knows where the current could have taken it?”
“I know,” Sean said after thinking for a moment, “and you should know too. Do you remember where our raft got carried by the current exactly?”
Hudson livened up. “I didn’t think about that, although it would only be possible if the whale stayed near the surface. But it’s definitely worth checking out.”
“Great idea,” the next morning, the men recalled the details of their childhood journey. Their relatives as well as the old fishermen helped them remember as many details as possible. After all, it was the fishermen who got the little adventurers back home. Of course, all the eyewitnesses remembered that story very differently so many years later, and some of them even shared some rather unrealistic details. Nevertheless, the team still managed to put together an approximate route. The boat set sail in search of the whale.
When the ship went out into the open ocean, the helicopter took off into the sky. It combed every square meter until it finally found the little sperm whale. They were right; the whale got carried away by the current. It was barely moving its fins because its tail was wrapped in a fishing net, which didn’t allow it to move freely. Soon, the helicopter returned to the ship, and the researchers quickly got to solving the new problem. Because if the animal didn’t get untangled soon, it would die.
The team didn’t know how to remove the net since they had to approach the sperm whale as silently as possible. While the scientific minds were working on a way out of this situation, Sean stood on the deck and looked at the ocean. He remembered their adventure with Hudson. Next to him stood the helicopter pilot; he had completed his mission and was now taking a rest on the deck. The men got to talking, and Sean shared his idea. The pilot scratched his head with his hand thoughtfully and then almost jumped for joy.
“The raft!” he shouted and rushed to the helicopter. Everyone looked at him in bewilderment but couldn’t understand what was happening. Meanwhile, the pilot pulled some kind of package out of the helicopter and proudly placed it in the middle of the deck, looking at Sean.
“It’s a life raft!” Hudson clapped his hands, unfolded, and launched it into the water. “We need some strong men and sharp knives.”
The pilot pulled an inconspicuous cord on the bundle, and a large raft immediately opened up on the deck of the boat. Hudson, Sean, and a couple of strong men from the team of scientists started looking for sharp objects. The raft was soon launched on the water, and all the members of the rescue team took their places. As soon as the raft was untied from the ship, the current started carrying it towards the place where the whale was. Meanwhile, the boat sailed away so as not to interfere with the rescue operation with its noise.
Getting to the sperm whale calf wasn’t difficult. Just as the pilot said, the calf was near the water surface. The animal wasn’t moving, which scared the scientists. They were afraid they might have been too late. The men decided to take the risk, and as soon as the raft approached the whale’s tail, two men immediately grabbed the net. They tied it to the raft and started cutting it. They weren’t immediately successful, but little by little, they started to make some progress. Scientists managed to cut off only one layer of the nets when something unexpected happened.
Apparently, the calf felt that freedom was close and started moving. It waved its flippers, and then it slowly raised its tail. The people on the raft froze for a moment and then rushed to cut the ropes they used to tie the net to the raft. The raft was doused with cold water as the animal dived underwater. The sound of the helicopter was heard in the air, and the scientists on board could see the sperm whale quickly moving in the ocean. The whale made a couple of moves with its fin and threw off the nets, which quickly sank to the bottom. The boat arrived to get the rescuers.
Warming up in a pub afterwards, the scientists were glad that they could save the life of one of the majestic inhabitants of the water expanses. There was still a lot of work ahead of them, since the problem of ocean pollution still needed to be solved. But that day, they felt like real heroes.