An underwater photographer has captured the dramatic aftermath of a pilot whale having its tail sliced off due to a collision with a boat propellor. Now, the image is being used to highlight the dangers that boating through busy wildlife areas poses.
Taken off the Canary Islands, the image comes courtesy of photographer Francis Pérez, and was recently shared to Instagram on Wednesday by fellow photographer Cristina Mittermeier.
Attention was brought to the pilot whale after its “shrilling calls of pain and fear” could be heard. It was then that Pérez came to the scene, accompanied by a wildlife veterinarian and a marine biologist. So severe was the injury that the team were left with no choice but to euthanize the animal.
Mittermeier, who works with ocean conservation organization SeaLegacy, said:
All they could do was pull it out of the water and, with the kind of sorrow that can only be understood by people with enough empathy to do what they had to do, they euthanized it.
She added that it was a “horrific image” and should act as a “wake-up call.”
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) says many species of whales feed, play, rest and socialize in these “urbanized marine highways,” often unknowingly putting themselves at risk of being struck by vessels.
Collisions between whales and boats are seemingly difficult to avoid, because sometimes, whales surface abruptly for air, providing very little notice to any passing boaters.