Swimming trunk: elephant rescued from ocean 10 miles off Sri Lanka coast
Sri Lankan navy drag animal back to shore after it got caught in a current off the coast near the town of Kokkilai
An elephant has been rescued from the ocean around 10 miles (16km) off Sri Lankas northeast coast, the countrys navy has said.
Navy personnel said the pachyderm was caught in a current off the coast near the town of Kokkilai and dragged into the ocean where it was spotted by a patrol boat.
Department of Wildlife officials and another navy vessel were despatched to the area and helped drag the animal back to shore.
Avinash Krishnan, a research officer with the conservation group A Rocha, said the discovery of the animal so far from land was less remarkable than it seemed.
Theyre very good swimmers, he said. Swimming about 15km from the shore isn't unusual for an elephant.
But he added that the navys intervention was still probably necessary. They cant keep swimming for long because they burn a lot of energy, he said.
And the salt water isnt good for their skin. In this case, the situation probably warranted human intervention.
He said Asian elephants regularly traversed short distances through the water, including in the Andaman Islands, an Indian archipelago, where they've been observed swimming between the small landforms.
Elephants use their trunks as a natural snorkel. Have a unique lung structure among mammals that allows them to withstand variations in pressure above and below the water.
Genetically, they're also close relatives of manatees and dugongs, both water-dwelling animals.
Biologists have speculated that elephants might've first reached Sri Lanka by taking a similar route as the one retrieved on Monday, swimming from southern India.