The rescue attempts of stranded whales and euthanasia considerations must include condition assessments of the individual involved, but this is challenged by our insufficient knowledge about the health statuses of these whales. Here, we describe three separate strandings of a young male killer whale (Orcinus orca) in shallow Danish waters during 2021–2022. During the first two stranding events, the whale exhibited remarkable behavior and, after refloating attempts and several kilometers of swimming, it returned to shallow water. This suggests that it actively chose to be in this shallow water, perhaps to ensure free airways and respiration. During the last stranding, it stayed in shallow water for 30 days, during which, euthanasia was considered due to its seemingly worsened condition, including a collapsed dorsal fin. However, suddenly, the whale swam away and, a year later, he was seen alive, confirming that euthanasia would have been the wrong decision. This case raises an important question as to when and under what circumstances active human interventions, such as refloating attempts, should be launched and when euthanasia should be carried out. Every stranding is unique and decisions should be based on thorough considerations of the animal’s health and the chance of a successful rescue.
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