Photos and video by Ryan Burns.

It was a heart-wrenching evening for the dozens of local residents who gathered on Samoa Beach Wednesday in hopes of seeing a beached humpback whale take advantage of high tide to make its escape into the sea.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The stranded whale was more active than it had been at midday, slapping its fluke against the breaking waves and occasionally squirming and rolling as it tried to break free of the wet sand. 

But the enormous marine mammal was clearly fatigued. Those in attendance cheered each time the whale made an effort to escape, and at least one person was in tears watching its efforts. A couple of times the whale rolled onto its left side, raising a bloody right flipper, apparently injured from the fishing gear that had entangled it, into the sky.

As the sun set, the whale remained helpless in the surf.

Marine mammal rescue specialist Dawn Goley, who was at the scene virtually the whole day, sent the Outpost the following message:

“Final update of the night … The whale is still in the surf zone as of 9:30 p.m. We will reassess in the morning.”

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