Rescued From the Ice!
In 1988 three young gray whales stayed in the feeding grounds too long. Sea ice formed and trapped them from open water as temperatures kept dropping. They were rescued outside of Barrow, Alaska when helpers cut a long series of holes in the ice where the whales could surface to breathe. The rescue, called Operation Breakthrough, was a tale of cooperation. Inupiat hunters, oil companies, U.S. and Soviet government agencies, the military, nonprofit groups, and the press all came together to make the rescue. This true story inspired the hit film Big Miracle, released in 2012.

Volunteers work to open an ice path so a whale can migrate.

Image: NOAA Library