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Knife-wielding Diver Saves Rare Northern Right Whale [VIDEO]

Jul 15, 2013 05:22 PM EDT

A rare, northern right whale was rescued from an entanglement of fishing line off the coast of Virginia Beach after a pair of men on a chartered boat spotted the floundering cetacean and decided to help.

Pat Foster, captain of the "Wave Runner" had chartered his boat to a team of scientists conducting research about 50 miles off shore and spotted the ensnared whale while out at sea. As Foster and his shipmate Adrian Colaprete came closer to the whale, they observed it struggling and after monitoring its movements, decided they might be able to do something to help the whale.

Colaprete dove in the water and swam to the whale and cut the fishing lines that ensnared it. He took a video camera with him and recorded the whole scene, which ended with one quick slice of the blade and the whale swimming freely away.

"It was almost like a submarine coming at me," Colaprete said of his encounter with the whale. "It was kind of scary at first, but it was real trippy ... as soon the whale passed me and I was parallel to its face and its eye, it kind of stopped and the gave me a little window to get down there" and make the cut, Colaprete said.

Only about 350 North American right whales exist in the wild, according to the Defenders of Wildlife. They reportedly are called right whales because they had enormous values when commercial whaling was legal, making them the "right" whales to capture.

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