I wanted to be sure I had the name right, so i Googled sperm whale, to discover that only just yesterday there has been another beach stranding of these awesome creatures, this time off the coast of Aceh, Indonesia. Check out this link on National Geographic. I always find it distressing news; but I am always heartened by the masses of people who turn out to help at the beach. People just love these creatures and don't want to see them die. Apparently, some of these bystanders can get in the way - but you can't blame them for wanting to help. Even experienced rescuers and wildlife experts face a huge problem - the sheer size and weight of the whales. How do you get a 40-tonne whale safely back into the deep ocean? Ropes and manpower are sometimes not enough and it must be heartbreaking when all your efforts are futile.
It took the innovative spirit of a New Zealander to come up with a solution – and one that works. Living near the ocean at Farewell Spit, Deb Ward has witnessed many whale strandings. (It's the most common spot for strandings in New Zealand.) She owns an Auckland-based business with her husband Simon that designs and builds machines for loading and unloading shipping containers. One day they came up with the idea to adapt their lifting gear to make a whale-lifting machine. They asked around for a sponsor, but could find no one willing to stump up the cash. So... they spent $40,000 of their own life savings on building the prototype. It is now in use and being refined to be even better at gently lifting the big beasts and delivering them into the sea. The Wards are hoping that the whale-lifter technology can be taken up and shared around the world. Find their story on this link.
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