It was the end of a day of diving off Vancouver, British Columbia, where wildlife photographer and marine biologist Paul Nicklen and his two assistants were conducting an ecological survey. They were heading back to shore in a 16-foot aluminum boat when they came across a bald eagle struggling in the water—and being dive-bombed by other eagles.
It isn’t uncommon for eagles to get into disputes over food and territory, sometimes ending up in air-to-air combat and, as it did here, one bird’s watery crash landing. As Nicklen and his team watched, the eagle started getting swept out to sea in the strong current and became a target for the other birds. It was getting “more and more tired and was going to die soon enough,” he says. Knowing they were still about a mile and a half away from shore, the team was faced with the decision of whether or …
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