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Isla Mujeres islanders say finback whale rescue changed their lives

Isla Mujeres, Q.R. — A group that helped to save an endangered finback whale stranded in shallow waters off Isla Contoy recently say it positively affected their lives.

The group that came from Isla Mujeres, say that it was an opportunity to do something different, and that it was an opportunity that will likely come only once. The group are workers from the company Caribbean Connection, that worked as a team to rescue a “giant”.

They say the experience has made them “proud islanders” noting that it positively changed their lives to perform such an action as the rescue of a rare whale in Mexican Caribbean waters. They say that although the rescue was coordinate perfectly, they had never done anything similar.

Those part of the rescue in the boats were Gilberto Ávalos Solís, Miguel Valdez Palma, Jesús Valdez Palma, Arturo Garrido Poot, Brisa Croce Ojeda, Martha Luisa Zapata Calderón, Omar Alejandro Nuñez Maldonado, Miguel Alkaid Ojeda Briceño, Raúl Gurubel, Francisco Canché, Luis Efraín Dzib Euan, Luis Armando Maldonado, Ángel Rosado Polanco, Víctor Castro Martínez and Gilmer Ojeda Canché.

In water were Pablo Valdez Palma, Eulogio Marín Núñez Maldonado, Ixchel Valdez Palma and Arturo Martínez Martínez, with Aldo José Álvarez Chaviano in charge of the rescue.

They said that when they learned of the stranded mammal, they felt both excitement and fear because they had never seen anything of that size in such a situation.

“We threw ourselves into the water without thinking about how he would react, but when we saw his condition we surround it. We saw that it had blood underneath its body,” explained Ixchel Valdez Palma.

He added that people who dove into the water put their hands under the whale and found that it was completely stuck. He explained that they passed the ends of the rope under the whale and protected its fins with life vests to prevent him from being injured.

It took them between 40 and 60 minutes, and once they managed to pull it completely forward, the whale was able to swim quickly.

Another member of the rescue group, Luis Armando Maldonado, acknowledged that the whale, by its own weight, made him think that the rescue might not work, but he says, it did not turn out that way.

“When we began to dislodge it and saw it start to come free, we escorted it. We made like a guide as it went out into deeper waters,” explained Eulogio, another of the rescuers.

The 18-meter finback whale was discovered stranded off Faro Beach at Isla Contoy during the morning of August 2. Volunteer rescue teams arrived and managed to pull the mammal out to sea where it was able to swim away.

The finback whale is on the global endangered species list.