Daring Diver Rescues Killer Whale From Death's Doorstep

New Zealand Conservation officials enlist help of local diving company to free Orca tangled in trap line.

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Lucky for this killer whale, a Good Samaritan diver was hanging out nearby. (Photo: ABC News)

The young Orca had been caught in the crayfish pot line for quite a while. Each time the great animal needed to surface for air, she struggled with the weight of the trap hanging from her tail.

She cried out to the five or six other orcas in her pod, and although they tried to help, ultimately a human diver named Rhys Cochrane dove into the waters of New Zealand’s Coromandel Coast, severed the line and cut the whale free.

"[The whale] had cuts all over its head from the rope,” Cochrane told New Zealand’s 3 News. “Down the tail there were a few rope burns and I could see blood from where the rope was.”

Cochrane approached the young whale with his knife.

“[S]he didn't seem to mind or maybe even knew that I was trying to help her," Cochrane said.

Orca expert Ingrid Visser says the whale definitely understood Cochrane had come to her aid. “They’re really smart animals. They can tell when you’re helping them.”

Visser also points out that while the Orca was obviously not happy about her predicament, the cries heard on the astonishing video Cochrane took are not cries of distress.

If she was panicking, Visser explains, her cries would have been more piercing. “You can see that as well by the animal’s behavior—she’s very calm.”

Fewer than 200 Orcas live around New Zealand.

While Visser cautions that people shouldn’t jump in and swim with these top ocean predators, she makes an even more important and timely point when the world is arguing about the rights of killer whales enslaved for human entertainment.

“Three people have been killed [by Orcas] in captivity, but no one in the wild."