An elephant was rescued from the Indian Ocean around 16 kilometres off Sri Lanka’s coast on Wednesday, The Guardian reported on Thursday. Sri Lankan Navy officials said that the elephant had been caught in a current off the coast near the town of Kokkilai and dragged into the ocean.

A patrol boat spotted the elephant, following which officials from Sri Lanka’s Department of Wildlife and a navy vessel were dispatched to the area to rescue it. Using ropes, the rescuers managed to direct the elephant towards the coast at the Yan Oya area of Pulmodai, south of Kokkilai, said AP. The animal was then handed over to wildlife officials.

However, Avinash Krishnan, a research officer with the conservation group A Rocha, said the rescue of the elephant was less remarkable than it seemed as elephants are “very good swimmers”.

“Swimming about 15 kilometres from the shore is not unusual for an elephant,” Krishnan said. However, he added that the Navy’s intervention was probably necessary since elephants cannot swim for a long time.

Krishnan said the ocean’s salty water is not good for elephants’ skins, so human effort is necessary to rescue them.