Text by Laura Buckley
Tack on another reason why we love whales. Last week, a beluga named Mila saved a drowning diver in Harbin, northeast China, the Telegraph reports.
Yang Yun, 26, was competing in a free diving contest to become a whale trainer at the Polar Land Aquarium when her legs suddenly felt paralyzed. In the test, divers had to sink to the bottom of the 20-foot, beluga-filled, arctic pool and stay underwater for as long as possible without breathing equipment. To her horror, Yun's legs cramped in the icy water, making her unable to swim to surface. "I began to choke and sank even lower and I thought that was it for me – I was dead," Yun said.
Enter Mila. The beluga spotted Yun and guided her to safety by placing Yun's leg in her mouth (see the video, top, and sorry for the cheese factor). "I felt this incredible force under me driving me to the surface," Yun said. An organizer of the event credited Mila with saving Yun's life: "She's a sensitive animal who works closely with humans and I think this girl owes her life." Belugas, also called white whales, are social animals and very vocal communicators.