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Watch: ‘Swimming’ Bald Eagle Rescued by Bystanders

Wildlife rescuers believe the eagle could have drowned without human assistance.

Swimming Eagle Rescued From Bay

A nearly drowned bald eagle has been given a second chance after animal rescuers saved it while it was "swimming." The eagle was first spotted in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada, on June 28.

Three people who were harvesting clams nearby stepped in to help the bird, using jackets and sweaters in an attempt to dry its feathers once it was safely on the boat.

Video shows the bird swimming forward in breast-stroke-like fashion, but at times it simply idles in the water, likely nearing exhaustion.

Angela Corbett, one of the eagle's rescuers, told the news aggregation site Caters News that they initially thought the eagle's wing was broken.

"We felt strongly that we had to help this bird as we feared it would die," she said.

Once the bystanders pulled the eagle from the water, they contacted Canada's Department of Natural Resources, who then brought the eagle to the nearby Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

In a post on their website, the center speculated that the eagle flew too close to the water's surface when trying to catch a fish that it was then unable to lift.

Once brought to the center, the eagle was evaluated. Caregivers found that it was missing the toes on its right foot, which they described as "highly unusual" and possibly from a trap. The bird of prey was otherwise in good health and still able to fly. To reduce the amount of time the eagle was kept from the wild, the Cobequid center promptly released it.

Similar footage of a swimming avian was captured late last year when a group of hikers filmed an owl "swimming" through a canyon in Arizona.

In both instances, the birds were in the water by mistake, rather than purposefully taking a plunge.

Large birds of prey have been catalogued swimming through the water after falling from a nest, swooping too close to the water to catch prey, or after tussling with another animal.

Once in the water, they're unable to take off until they reach dry land and their feathers are dry. In the water, these birds have no means of defending themselves and their talons are unable to propel them forward.