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Fisherman Risks Life by Jumping into Ocean After Humpback Whale Becomes Trapped in Net

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How much effort are you willing to put into helping out an animal in need? Most people wouldn’t hesitate to crouch down and call over a friendly lost dog.

But that’s child’s play — and many dogs that get out are scared, fearful or aggressive. It’s definitely trickier to corral uncooperative dogs. They don’t know you’re trying to help them.

Dogs are domesticated, but would you be as likely to help a wounded bird? Squirrel? Fox? Coyote?

As the animals get bigger and less tame, it’s harder for average people to help them. But very, very few people have had the chance to see large creatures like humpback whales, let alone rescue them.

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When you’re up next to an aquatic creature that easily exceeds 50 feet in length and 25 tons, you are terribly insignificant — at least when comparing sheer size.

But one man from California used his understanding and dexterity to free a whale that was being dragged down by a net. It happens often enough, unfortunately, that whales and dolphins get caught in the nets that are designed to catch fish, and if no one is there to help, they usually end up dying.

Would you risk your life for an animal?

Sam Synstelien is a commercial fisherman who was out with Nicholas Taron when they came across the distressed whale. Not willing to leave the gargantuan creature to struggle and die, he did the only thing that made sense at the time: He jumped in.

“Get it Sam! Get it! Swim, swim! Move! Just get it! Get it!” one of the men on the boat chanted, in a very LaBeouf “just do it” sort of way.

And Sam did. He swam up to the whale, climbed onto its back, and cut through the cord.

“I’ve never been that close to a whale,” he later told Inside Edition. “It was like jumping out an airplane or skydiving, it was like what… am I doing right now. That is a big whale.

The man on board screamed an epic “YEAAHHH” as the whale took off, free from its cumbersome burden.

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“If we wanted the whale to survive we had to go get it,” Taron said. “We thought there was no other option for the whale; we decided to go for it. We were so pumped up full of adrenaline, I don’t think we were that scared.”

It could have turned out very differently if the whale had not been so amenable to the fisherman’s help, or even if it had made the wrong move and crushed its rescuer — but thankfully everyone came out of the ordeal safe and the whale escaped a pitiful death.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking