Several whales manage to successfully beach themselves but one gets caught in a rip, flails its flippers and fails to make it ashore.
Rips are scary. They aren’t always easy to spot, even for frequent beach-goers.
I had a first-hand rip encounter a long time ago at Surfers Paradise in Queensland. A friend and I were in the water and we must have inadvertently drifted a distance parallel to the beach from the main swimming area. Within no time, the shore was suddenly getting further away. I tried to walk forward but the sand just disappeared from under my feet. Trying to swim forward was impossible and we continued to drift away from the beach.
Next thing we knew, there was a vehicle on the beach and someone yelling from it with a megaphone. It was largely distorted and difficult to understand what they were saying, but we managed to decipher enough to realise we had to swim parallel to the beach even further.
Doing this allowed us to then gradually move closer to the beach and get a firm footing in the sand again. Eventually we made it to shore and just collapsed from exhaustion until our heart rates and breathing returned to normal.
The video that follows explains more about rip currents, their dangers and what to do if you find yourself caught in one – Deadly Rip Currents: How to Survive.
It’s not likely that whales would ever get caught in a rip, but if they did, the current would save their lives by preventing them from beaching themselves in the first place.