Five Stranded Beluga Whales Rescued From Russian Beach After Calf Found Crying in Distress

Almost half a dozen beluga whales have been rescued from a river beach in Russia, after low tides in the area created the perfect conditions for them to get stranded.

A video shot by Alexey Paramonov, an inspector for Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) and published by The Siberian Times on Sunday, showed a mother and calf stranded by the mouth of the river Uda, which leads to the Sea of Okhotsk. The river is located near the far eastern village of Chumikan, in the Khabarovsk Krai region. The calf, shown wrapped in a blanket, can be heard crying in distress during the footage.

The inspector found the mother and baby stranded far apart from one another. He told The Siberian Times: "I prepared them both for the tide, brought the calf close to [the] mother and turned them so that they faced the tide. It seemed to have calmed them down a bit."

Paramonov rescued a family of beluga whales in the same area on Wednesday, after a resident of Chumikan called EMERCOM for help at around 4:30 p.m. The woman reported seeing several beluga whales on the spit of the Uda river. Paramonov found two adults and a baby around 1.5 km from the coast. One of the adults was found on its side, which is dangerous for these animals, the statement said. Paramonov dug a hole beneath the whale so he could turn it to the right position.

Images of the incident mirror the scenes in the latest video released by Paramonov, with whales seen lying on pebbles with the tide out.

stranded beluga whale, russia, EMERCOM
A baby and adult beluga whale are pictured at the mouth of the Uda river, on October 14. Days later, a mother and calve were found stranded in the same area. EMERCOM

The inspector doused the whales' skin and eyes with water to prevent them from dehydrating. He also tried to protect them from predators. Paramonov wrapped the baby in a cloth to prevent it from developing hypothermia, and watched over the animals past sunset. At around midnight, when the tide came in, the whales were able to swim away.

According to EMERCOM, Paramonov gained expertise in marine science before joining the ministry, and he has dealt with beluga whales before. Paramonov took blood samples from the whales, which he sent off to be examined by the Institute of Ecology and Evolution.

Last year, three adult beluga whales were stranded on a sandbank at the Uda's mouth, and were attacked by crows and seagulls. Paramonov was also able to save those whales, according to EMERCOM.

The Siberian Times reported a beluga whale died in the area after it got too cold waiting for the tide to come in. Being stranded is among the biggest threats to beluga whales, which weigh 3,150 pounds on average and can live up to 80 years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Noise in the ocean can also put the animals at risk, affecting their behavior and pushing them out of waters they need to visit in order to survive.

A spokesperson for the Far East Expedition local tour operator told The Siberian Times there have been discussions about establishing monitoring stations in the areas visited by the whales.

Newsweek has contacted EMERCOM for comment.