Hiking through forgotten trails and ancient ruins can lead to all sorts of discoveries — and that’s just on land. If we venture out into the ocean, the probabilities of stumbling upon something no one has greatly intensify.
When Keller Laros, an avid diver, spotted strange movement deep off the coast of Hawaii, he knew he had to investigate. When he got closer to the object in question, however, Keller realized he was in for much more than he anticipated.
It’s common for scuba divers to make an unexpected discovery from time to time, after all, most of the ocean has yet to be explored. But that’s not to say everything is a positive find…
Keller loved spending time with family and friends diving into the watery depths of the world. His curiosity for the ocean was endless, and that was never more clear than on one night in January 2013.
Keller was enjoying a nice manta ray night dive in the beautiful scenery of the Garden Eel Cove of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, when he suddenly got a surprise.
Beyond the rays swimming around him, Keller noticed that there was something much bigger lurking in the distance. His gut urged him to swim toward the mysterious shape.
It didn’t take long before Keller realized that something was seriously wrong up ahead. He swam faster through the large rays as his worries and heartbeat grew louder.
Suddenly, a female bottlenose dolphin appeared right before Keller’s eyes. Though dolphins can often be found in that area of the cove, something was off…
Just as he paused to take in the sight, Keller had a startling realization. He noticed that she wasn’t swimming the way she should. He couldn’t allow himself to ignore it.
There was something about her pectoral fin — it was preventing her from moving as fast or as graceful as dolphins usually do. Keller and his diving partner began to further investigate her struggle…
The bones of the bottlenose dolphin’s pectoral fin are homologous to the bones of the human arm. They are a vital part for navigating the body’s direction whilst swimming.
With dolphins being the incredibly intelligent marine animals that they are, this bottlenose quickly became curious about the divers. She decided to examine them…
Keller took this as the perfect opportunity to shine his flashlight directly onto the animal. Was she sick? Had she been attacked by a shark or struck by a propeller?
Meanwhile, the bottlenose dolphin continued to swim sluggishly around Keller and his partner. But soon enough, Keller saw it…
This wasn’t an injury caused by a shark, but a much greater predator — humans. A fishing line was wrapped tightly around the dolphin’s fin and a hook was in her mouth, an unfortunately common problem.
That’s when Keller knew that he had to do something fast. He swam right up to the dolphin and motioned toward her to get her attention back.
The line was really wrapped around her, and it was clear that setting her free wasn’t going to be an easy task. Amazingly, however, the dolphin seemed to recognize he was there to help.
It was as if she was fully aware of the diver’s good intentions. He pulled the hook from her side, and then, step by step, he slowly worked to free her from her wiry snare.
Without proper mobility, the poor dolphin would never be able to fend off predators or swim fast enough to catch fish. Still, Keller wasn’t going to give up.
She couldn’t help but move around a little bit in order to keep herself afloat, but she mostly stayed put and allowed Keller to help her. She didn’t flinch, even when he was forced to use a pair of sharp scissors!
The only other option would have been to allow the dolphin to keep swimming with her injury, which would only lead to more pain — and perhaps even loss of life. She needed to be free.
NASA / Wikimedia Commons
Obviously, this was further evidence of the effects that humans continue to have on the natural world. Thankfully, Keller was there to try and make this time different.
Eventually, the experienced diver was able to free the poor fish — a happy ending to an almost tragic story. Creatures of the sea aren’t the only ones that experience trouble in the water, though…
This was no more evident than the case of one bear in Alligator Point on St. James Island in Florida.
The 375-pound black bear had been sniffing around the neighborhood when he wandered into a home. Wildlife conservation officers were called to sedate him and safely relocate him to the wild, but moments after he was shot with a tranquilizer, things started to go wrong.
It may sound harsh to shoot an animal, even by strictly non-lethal means, but the wildlife officers had no choice. As much as the bear wanted nothing more than to mind his own business, he would have encountered a human soon enough.
Even though using a tranquilizer was the humane option to ensure the bear and area residents stayed safe, there were no guarantees the process would go the way they planned it…
Of course, that plan quickly backfired. Instead of the dart sedating him, it immediately sent the bear into a panic. The wildlife officers readied themselves for the worst, but they didn’t realize just how bad things were about to get.
The large bear, who must have been terrified by the officers chasing him, made a beeline toward the nearby water—and he began swimming out as far as he could. Unfortunately, that was when the sedative started to kick in.
The drowsy bear clearly couldn’t keep himself afloat—and he began to drown! Adam Warwick, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, knew that he had to act quickly.
Without hesitating, the fearless and determined Adam dove into the water and swam toward the huge bear. Most people couldn’t imagine doing something quite so brave, but to him, it made perfect sense… at least in the moment.
“It was a spur of the moment decision. I had a lot of adrenaline pumping when I saw the bear in the water,” Adam later said of the experience. Thank goodness for that adrenaline, otherwise, he would have known how dangerous it truly was. What if the bear attacked him?
Adam didn’t have time to think twice: he grabbed the enormous bear with both hands and wrapped his arms around his neck. Then he started to kick toward shallow water where the other wildlife officers were waiting…
The bear wasn’t entirely asleep, and he was understandably distressed. He frantically tried to climb on top of Adam in an effort to stay afloat, but he was losing the ability to move his legs.
Despite his stressful—and incredibly risky—mission, Adam stayed as calm as he could as he approached more shallow water. He grabbed the bear by the scruff of his neck and carefully led him toward the rescue boat.
Thankfully, Adam was able to pull the powerful predator roughly 25 yards toward dry land. Moving the bear might’ve seemed (relatively) easy in the water, but it was a different story on the shore!
The unusual pair finally made it to the rest of the rescue team, in one piece. Though the bear was sedated, he could have lunged at Adam or swiped at him with his claws at any moment…
Incredibly, Adam suffered only one scratch during the entire ordeal. Other than that, he was perfectly fine! Who would have known that he’d come out of this risky mission relatively unscathed?
Adam’s colleagues stepped in to help the exhausted man and beast collect their bearings. It was going to take a lot of people—and a lot of bravery along the way, much like anyone in this type of situation…
The team drove a large tractor toward the water’s edge to transport the groggy bear back to his home in Osceola National Forest. There was no way they would’ve been able to carry a 375-pound animal without a little help!
Thankfully, the bear didn’t suffer any injuries after his wild jaunt in the water. It was safe to say that he probably wouldn’t go anywhere near water for a while following this experience.
Most importantly, this massive bear was safe and back in a habitat that suited him best. Hopefully by now he’s learned to avoid wandering into residential neighborhoods!