If you ever doubted that whales have feelings the same way humans do, you must watch this classic video. Or if you simply take a great deal of joy is witnessing the joy of another living being, this video is for you.
The title of this clip is “Saving Valentina,” with “Valentina” being the name her rescuers gave to this female humpback who, sadly and almost tragically, became entangled in a nylon fishing net on Valentine’s Day three years ago.
Luckily for Valentina, her accident took place in the Sea of Cortez — the wildlife-rich gulf between the Baja California peninsula and mainland Mexico — when Michael Fishbach, a then-56-year-old former pro tennis player turned ardent conservationist, floated by in his boat. Fishbach, along with The Great Whale Conservancy co-founder Dr. Gershon Cohen, make an annual expedition into the Sea of Cortez to research behavior of whales there.
The video of the rescue he and his boating companions effected on Valentina became an instant classic, with close to 10 million views. But if you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, “Saving Valentina” is not only worth watching — it’s a must. If you’re the type of person who enjoys feeling incredibly happy, that is.
The video does not start out happily, however. When Fishbach and his fellow researchers first spot Valentina, they are certain that she’s dead. The whale is simply floating, motionless in the crystal-blue waters. And then, suddenly, she lets out one desperate breath and Fishbach knew what needed to be done.
“When we first approached the whale, she was in horrible shape,” he told ABC News later. “The decision to rescue the whale came slowly. We knew there was a risk. But we decided to go for it.”
After snorkeling over to the inert whale, Fishbach can see that she is hopelessly ensnared in a tough, nylon net. Using only a pocket knife, Fishbach and his cohorts began slowly, carefully cutting the net.
Once Valentina had even a single fin free, she started showing signs of life.
“She kind of knew we were her chance, we were her lifeline,” Fishbach said.
Watch what happens when the whale is finally free — and how Valentina shows her joy at being alive and her gratitude to he human saviors. Be sure to listen for the voice of a little girl on the boat who explains it all.
“Mommy, I know what she’s doing,” the girl says as the whale puts on what Fishbach said was an hour-long display, edited down to a few minutes in the video. “She’s showing us that she’s all free.”