On Aug. 11, fishermen Ivan Iskenderian and Michael Riggio were returning from a fishing trip near Killarney Point in Sydney. To their surprise and delight, a whale approached their boat. What's more, it began to repeatedly peek its head over the waters, spray, and even give the boat a gentle nudge. "It was surreal, we couldn't believe our eyes," Iskenderian told the Manly Daily

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It didn't take long, however, for the young fishermen to realize that the whale was not just making a playful visit. Stuck to its mouth was a plastic bag and tangled fishing wire, the paper reported. Entanglement in drifting garbage can be life-threatening for marine life, leading to starvation, suffocation, exhaustion, or serious infection, notes the EPA

Leaning out as far as he could, Iskenderian was able to grab hold of the refuse, and remove it from the whale's mouth. The whale did not hesitate to express its joy, slapping the water as it swam away. The young men couldn't help but feel awed by the experience. "I couldn't believe it. We were just laughing, couldn't believe what was happening," Iskenderian told 7 News.

The entire spectacle was so incredible, Riggio captured the moment in a well-timed selfie, as nearby fisherman Ron Kovacs filmed. Of the exhilarating and triumphant moment, Kovacs wrote on his Facebook page, "He was very (inquisitive) and more interested in us. You could see that big eye coming out watching us. They are not dumb for sure."