Two pygmy sperm whales stranded on a beach in northern New Zealand were saved Thursday by wildlife rangers in a touching rescue caught on camera.
According to the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), the whales were spotted on Ripiro Beach, southwest of the town of Dargaville around 2.45 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Video shot by DOC wildlife ranger Karen Joyce-Paki shows rangers working to transport the two whales from the sandy beach via truck 40 kilometres south to Kaipara Harbour.
Then, using inflatable boats, the rangers returned the two whales to the water around 5 p.m. that day. Joyce-Paki told Auckland Now that rescuing the whales was “overwhelming” and “the biggest buzz.”
Pygmy whales usually grow to almost four metres long, though these two were nowhere near that long, coming in under two metres.
Wildlife rangers are still not sure what may have caused the whales to beach themselves.