A group of salmon farmers saved a bald eagle from the clutches of an octopus on the north side of Vancouver Island in Canada, as seen in a video posted on Dec. 11.
The boat was headed back to their float house when the salmon farmers heard a commotion in the water, KCPQ reported.
John Ilett said that they found “a full-sized eagle submerged in the water with a big giant octopus in the water trying to drag it down.”
The crew hesitated initially as they watched the animals struggle, unsure of whether they should jump in and help or not.
“We weren’t sure if we should interfere because it is mother nature, survival of the fittest,” Ilett told KCPQ. “But it was heart-wrenching — to see this octopus was trying to drown this eagle.”
“We weren’t sure exactly how it was going to go down when I tested the pole,” Ilett told KCPQ.
The pole had a hook at the end, which Ilett used to grab hold of the sea animal.
“I was able to just latch on to the octopus and give it a little tug,” he said. “It released its grip … which gave the eagle just enough time to get to shore.”
Although Ilett said he has seen some remarkable things in the 20 years that he’s been working on the water, he said that this was one of the coolest things he had seen.
“It’s moments like this why I love my job and being out in the environment where I can work and live,” he said. “It’s just amazing.”
Despite the courageous rescue, Ilett and his coworkers have been subject to backlash for their act of heroism by people who believe that they shouldn’t have intervened with the circle of life.
But Ilett believes it’s different when you’re the one watching it happen.
“Am I at fault because I’m human and I felt compassion for the bird?” he said. “At the end of the day both animals are alive and well and they went their separate ways and we feel pretty good about what we did.”
Although bald eagles are no longer on the U.S. endangered list as of 2007, they are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, along with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act. Anyone who causes harm to one of these birds could face a $250,000 fine and two years in jail.
Ilett said that he wasn’t sure if he should intervene to save the eagle and stop its suffering because of ‘survival of the fittest’ or ‘mother nature.’ Such principles make for poor ethical standards.
Society has a strange concept of what things should be allowed to live and what should be condemned to die. Some people would rather protect eagle eggs than unborn babies.
Humans have the God-given ability to demonstrate compassion. In the end, Ilett made the best choice by preserving the lives of both animals.
If the octopus was strong enough to take down an eagle, it’s likely strong enough to also take down another dinner that has fewer feathers. The bald eagle will fly free for another day.
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