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MOSCOW, August 10. /TASS/. A polar whale, which got stranded in a river mouth in Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk region, has been rescued and is now heading back out to sea, Russian Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergei Donskoi wrote on Facebook.
"A big thank you goes to everyone who participated [in the rescue operation] and expressed concern for the stranded whale," he wrote. "Shantar Islands National Park Director Vladimir Andronov has just called me on the phone saying that the whale has left the river with the tide, the experts have been keeping an eye on him. The whale is now safe," the minister added.
According to previous reports, during high tide, a 13-meter-long great polar whale got into the river flowing out of Lake Bolshoye on the Bolshoy Shantar Island located in the Sea of Okhotsk, in Russia’s Khabarovsk region. The mammal had been apparently chased into the river by a school of killer whales. It had been wounded and was very much frightened.
Scientists and experts from Russia’s Emergencies Ministry waited for the night high tide to herd the whale away from the shore. During low tide, inspectors from the Shatnar Islands National Park had been keeping the whale wet using water pumps.
The Shantar Islands is an archipelago with an area of 2,500 square kilometers, located off the northwestern shore of the Sea of Okhotsk. As many as 240 bird species inhabit the islands, 30 of which are listed in the Red Book of Russia. There are also rookeries of the Steller sea lions and spotted seals, included in the Red Book. Besides, polar whales often hang out in the area. The archipelago is a special protected area included in the Shantar Islands National Park.