Thank You!

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2016 5 Apr

A humpback whale breaches out of the water.

Michael Fishbach loves photographing whales. So it seems fitting that he spent Valentine’s Day with family and friends whale watching in the beautiful Sea of Cortez. The adventure began when he spotted what appeared to be a dead humpback whale floating in the water. Coming in for a closer look, he realized it was entangled in a nylon gill net. Suddenly the whale exhaled, loud and clear, through its blowhole. Deciding to investigate, Michael jumped into the water.

“As I swam alongside the animal,” he said, “our eyes met. There were no words we could share, but I wanted to let the whale know that we were there to help. . . . The sight of this large and beautiful creature trapped and so close to death was almost overwhelming,” he said.

Though it was dangerous to be close to a young whale in distress, Michael and two friends spent the next hour cutting away at the net with a small knife, hoping to free the animal before it drowned.

Finally, with one last slash of the knife, the whale slipped free, and everyone in the boat cheered. Then, for a full hour, the whale provided them with a nonstop display of joy. Michael watched in awe, counting at least forty breaches as well as several tail lobs, tail slaps, and pectoral fin slaps.

The whole experience was captured on video. As the whale performs her incredible display, a young girl can be heard saying,

“I know what she is doing. She is showing us that she is free.”

To that a woman replies, “I think she is showing us a thank you dance.”

Whether the whale was saying thank you or simply celebrating being alive, God’s promise of peace is meant for all of creation. I have often wondered whether we underrate the feelings and intelligence of other animals. Perhaps doing so makes it easier to disregard their sufferings. But God has given us the incredible privilege of being stewards of his creation. Let’s fulfill that role reverently and with wisdom. As we do, we can be confident that God’s peace will spread throughout the world he has made. 

  • All quotes are from Laura Hibbard, “Humpbacked Whale Puts on a Show for the Men Who Saved Her,” Huffington Post, July 13, 2011, accessed August 17, 2011,