Even though it happened back in 2011, we couldn't resist posting this heart-warming whale of a tale when it arrived via one of those circulating viral emails. Michael Fishbach, a co-founder of The Great Whale Conservancy, narrates this amazing rescue of a humpback whale that had become entangled in a discarded fishing net in the Sea of Cortez. And while we usually hate anthropomorphic assumptions, we'll make an exception just this once: it really did seem as if humpback and human cooperated to help rescue efforts along.
But now for some necessary happy-bubble bursting. Most entangled animals are not lucky enough to be rescued. While detailed stats are hard to come by, one 2008 study found 30,000 entangled animals (including 22 dead marine mammals, 378 dead birds, 1022 live and dead fish and 29,517 live and dead invertebrates) when 870 nets were removed from Puget Sound.
Image via utnapistim
Lost or discarded fishing gear (sometimes called 'ghost gear') poses a huge threat to all kinds of ocean life, including marine mammals, turtles and sea birds. And since nets are made of synthetic materials, they don't break down but continue drifting (and 'ghost fishing') indefinitely.
So if the feel-good vibes of the whale rescue have inspired you to do some good, consider getting involved in a ghost-gear cleanup (a quick Google search should point you in the right direction).