An elephant was stranded nine miles out to sea. Then the Sri Lankan Navy arrived.
Of all the animals in the world to stay in the ocean, some are more likely to survive an elephant, with its natural floating and integrated snorkel.
But even strong elephants will need a side, and perhaps a fleet of Navy ships.
The dramatic 12-hour operation sequence in the morning Sri Lanka Armada showed on Tuesday a thick elephant cloak desperately nine miles off the coast.
Accidental waves threaten to seize him, forcing the elephant to pull oxygen from his overturned trunk.
The animal was first discovered by a Sri Lankan naval vessel on a routine patrol in the coastal city northeast of Kokilai. The rescue effort has swollen to three other ships and a team of Navy divers.
The use of ropes and advice provided by officials of the Department of Wildlife, the team returned to the elephant on the land, where it was handed over to officials of the wildlife office, said the Sri Lankan Navy in a statement.
Chaminda Walakuluge, a spokeswoman for the Sri Lankan Navy, told AFP that the elephant was probably caught in a hangover stream crossing the Kokkilai lagoon a mass of coastal water trapped in the jungle on either side.
“They usually run through shallow water or even swim through a shortcut. It’s a miracle escape for the elephant,” said Walakuluge AFP.
Joyce Poole, co-founder of the conservation group of elephants voices, told The Washington Post that “elephants are considered the best swimmers of all terrestrial mammals, excluding trained human swimmers.”
Poole said the elephant in the video looked tired, presumably to stay afloat for an indeterminate period of time. His swimming skills that pose a hazard are not new, he said.
“I remember the theft of the 1990s stages through deserted islands off the coast of Kenya near the border with Somalia and see the bones of elephants who were killed there,” Poole said. “Obviously, they swam from the mainland to the island to meet their death.”