One of the biggest threats to whales across the globe is getting fatally ensnared in derelict fishing gear. National Geographic last week told the story of a leading sperm whale researcher working in Dominica in 2015 who spied a familiar juvenile whale named “Digit” with fishing rope tangled on her tail and midsection, which kept her from being able to dive and effectively hunt for food. This particular whale was part of a close-knit pod that was dwindling in numbers. After the researcher saw the rope, locals made several attempts to free her from it but to no avail. Over the next few years, the researcher wondered what happened to Digit. Then last year Digit reappeared in Dominican waters without the rope — looking fat and healthy. These beautiful Brian Skerry photos capture her in all her glory with her close-knit family group. Her unusual story, as Nat Geo points out, highlights the plastic pollution crisis in our oceans.
H/t to Brian and Brian of Nat Geo for the gorgeous photos and the story tip!