Somehow, the animal had gotten itself perilously close to the freezing cold water. And in an attempt to save itself from sinking into the depths, it hung desperately onto a nearby ferry. Fortunately, though, Johan Skärkarl was at the scene – and the creature’s plight spurred him on to attempt an intrepid rescue.
Skärkarl had spotted the animal clinging on for dear life to the HSC Gotlandia II – a vessel that takes passengers to the Swedish island of Gotland. At the time of the incident, the ferry was docked in Visby, which is the island’s principal town and home to nearly half of Gotland’s residents.
And as the salvage operation took place in February 2014, the waters around Gotland were likely to have been very cold indeed. Indeed, sea temperatures in Visby in February typically fall between 33 °F and 37.4 °F. Swimming in such conditions, then, may lead to hypothermia. But Skärkarl was seemingly not going to let this stop him.
Thankfully, then, in video footage of the rescue attempt, Skärkarl appears to be dressed appropriately for a plunge into the icy-cold water. The Swedish man is clad in fluorescent orange overalls, with a lifejacket of a similar hue on top. The ensemble is completed with a pair of sturdy black boots and black gloves.
Then Skärkarl makes his way to the ladder attached to the wall of the dock and begins climbing down towards the water. There’s apparently no trepidation on his part, either, since his descent is sure-footed and swift – as a passer-by watching Skärkarl may have noted.
Skärkarl subsequently makes his way towards the ferry by swimming – but not in a manner typically found in many pools. Floating on his back, he rotates his arms in circles while keeping his legs still. Nevertheless, the unusual method does the trick, and Skärkarl gets to the vessel with speed.
Then, when he reaches the ferry, Skärkarl starts to look behind the paneling that lines the craft’s bottom. And for a few seconds, the rescuer disappears completely – until a flash of bright orange appears yet again. A mysterious meowing sound can be heard in the clip, too; perhaps these are the cries of the stranded animal.
And after Skärkarl appears to have completed his investigation, he launches himself back into the water. This time, however, he’s not alone: instead, he has a fluffy passenger on board. You see, as Skärkarl swims to land on his back, a small creature is seen standing safely on his stomach.
Skärkarl’s new friend is a black-and-white cat, who clings on to the Swedish man as he makes his way across the water. En route to dry land, the animal continues to meow. And the sight is an unusual one, for sure; it even prompts a chuckle from the cameraman.
Then, as the pair move closer to the water’s edge, it becomes clear that Skärkarl is holding the cat’s legs. This is undoubtedly a wise move; after all, if the feline were to jump into the water, the intrepid rescuer would have to put in yet more risky effort in order to save it.
Once Skärkarl and the cat reach the dock, however, they disappear out of the camera’s view. The cameraman subsequently repositions himself by following the animal’s cries and captures Skärkarl now holding his latest catch above water. The man is seemingly searching for a safe place to set the cat down on dry land.
Resourceful as ever, Skärkarl spots what looks like a giant pipe and bobs towards it. Even so, he must work out how to get the cat onto the pipe without dropping the creature back into the deep. In the end, though, he does the most practical thing and throws the feline up towards the dock.
And, thankfully, the cat makes it onto dry land, landing on all fours. However, it appears that the animal isn’t best pleased in the way in which it is roughly deposited to safety; as it is being thrown, it lets out an audible moan.
Then, after a quick shake, the cat begins to wander off, neglecting to thank its savior. The camera follows the feline, however, as it heads in the opposite direction to the dock. Perhaps disorientated and bewildered after its watery adventure, the creature also pauses to look around – maybe in order to make some sense of its surroundings.
Ultimately, though, the animal leaves the scene, rubbing up against a barrier before wandering off completely. Meanwhile, Skärkarl emerges from the water and chats to nearby people who have witnessed him at arguably one of his most valiant moments.
And given how heartwarming the rescue footage is, it’s perhaps no surprise that the clip has been shared on YouTube by a number of users. For example, Pheline Phanatic reposted the footage with the tagline “This video will help you feel good about humanity,” adding, “We are glad for the happy ending.”
Poke My Heart’s channel also hosted the video with a description that dubs Skärkarl as “a brave hero.” And it appears that some of the video’s viewers were just as impressed by Skärkarl’s good deed. Noticing how considerate the man was throughout the rescue mission, one person commented, “He even goes out of his way to keep the cat as dry as possible.”
On YouTube, another individual simply added of Skärkarl, “What a beautiful human being.” However, other users of the video-sharing site were apparently amused by the cat’s reaction to being saved, and they pointed out the creature’s apparent indifference underneath the video.
One commenter wrote, for instance, “The cat is like meh…whatever.” And it even appears that someone else had their eyes on Skärkarl, as they posted the observation, “Why are Swedish men so hot? Even the ordinary ones?”
Regardless of the cat’s apparent apathy towards its rescuer, though, Skärkarl arguably deserves all of the praise he gets for going above and beyond the call of duty. And here’s hoping that the feline in question hasn’t gotten itself into any more sticky situations since its time on board the HSC Gotlandia II…