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Stranded orca saved by volunteers who kept it cool for hours until high tide

An orca that was stranded on some rocks was kept alive for eight hours by a dedicated team of whale researchers and volunteers on the North Coast of B.C.

A pump and sheets were used to keep whale alive near Hartley Bay on B.C.'s North Coast

An orca is stranded on B.C.'s North Coast 1:12

An orca that was stranded on some rocks was kept alive for eight hours by a dedicated team of whale researchers and volunteers on the North Coast of B.C.

"She cried often, which tore at our hearts, but as the tide came up there were many cheers as this whale was finally free," said in a Facebook post from the group The Cetacean Lab.

Early Wednesday morning, the group received a call from a colleague about the beached orca, which was stuck on some rocks at low tide. 

"We decided the best thing to do would be to keep her cool, that meant to put water on her body and we used blankets and sheets," said Hermann Meuter, a co-founder of Cetacean Lab. 

"It was the only thing we could do."

Meuter said they could see the orca's behaviour change as they began to help her.

"At first she was stressed, you could see that her breathing was getting a little faster," said Meuter.

But after about 15 to 20 minutes, she began to calm down. 

"I think she knew that we were there to help her," said Meuter.

Around 4 p.m. PT, the tide began to rise and the orca was able to start freeing herself.

"It took her about 45 minutes to negotiate how best to get off the rocks," said Meuter. "We all just kept our distance at that point." 

When she swam away, the orca was quickly reunited with her pod, which was nearby. 

Metuer said members of the World Wildlife Fund and the Git G'at Guardians from Hartley Bay were also on the scene helping to free the animal.

"We all cared about this whale and we were just very lucky to give that whale another chance," said Meuter.

View a map of Hartley Bay, B.C.

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