Crews free whale stranded on beach in Western Wash.

Photo courtesy NOAA.

PORT ANGELES, Wash. - Crews freed a young grey whale Friday night that had been stranded on a remote beach in Olympic National Park for about three days.

Responders from NOAA Fisheries' West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Olympic National Park fashioned a harness around the 24-foot whale and connected it to pulleys anchored lower on the beach and shore.

The whale was turned seaward and pulled into deeper water.

The team also dug a shallow trench around whale to help position the whale as the tide came in. Experts estimate the whale is around one to two years old.

The whale, originally thought to be a female, is now believed to be a male, NOAA says.

Crews say the whale remained alert through the stranding and tried to free itself several times but failed. Historically, it is considered unusual for large stranded whales to be successfully freed.

"Whales are not designed to be out of water so their organ systems rapidly decline when beached and medical care is essential," Lesanna Lahner, a wildlife veterinarian at SR3, a marine mammal rescue organization, said.

To help the whale survive, a mammal biologist administered supportive medications, such as B vitamins and anti-inflammatories, to the whale while it was stranded.

Gray whales are unusual among whales because they regularly feed in shallow waters. Authorities say several other gray whales have been spotted recently feeding near where the whale was stranded.

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