A sperm whale that got caught in a giant fishing net got a much-needed hand from Italian divers, who captured the incredible rescue on camera ... up close and personal.
This heartwarming scene went down Friday off the coast of Lipari, where some biologists working at a turtle recovery center noticed the whale not too far from the shore. It was static, so the team contacted the Coast Guard ... which sent a group of divers to investigate.
Sure enough, the whale's tail had been tangled in what's been described as an illegal net -- and if you watch the video that the divers were able to film ... you can see it's wrapped around tight and made it just about impossible for the sea creature to swim freely.
Well, the divers got to work and two of them went underwater -- with cameras rolling -- and they started snipping away with knives and cutters until the whale could shake itself free. Unclear how long it took, but we imagine a fair amount of time was spent on this.
At one point, you see one of the divers caressing the whale ... presumably to let it know they meant it no harm or to calm its nerves. Whales are mammals, BTW, and they're super smart.
Anyway, once the whale was free ... it swam away calmly, and per to reports on the ground -- a few other whales were waiting attentively nearby to receive their friend. Neat!