When marine scientist Laura Sanchez Peregrin took a boat out for some recreational diving with friends off Arrawarra beach in New South Wales, Australia recently, she was hoping to see some incredible sea life ... instead, she found a wallaby stranded nearly a kilometre from shore.

Wallaby Stranded 2015 12 14
Image: Laura Sanchez Peregrin

"We had just left the bay when, to our surprise, we see an unusual shape in the water, which turns out to be a big wallaby! There, swimming a fair way out offshore by himself," she recalls in an Instagram post.

After approaching the stray marsupial (who's since been nicknamed "Swampy"), the group could see he was in trouble. “The poor thing was exhausted. It was a hot day so who could blame him for wanting to refresh himself! But he was way, way out.”

Taking matters into their own hands, the group decided to launch an impromptu rescue and bring the animal back to shore – but it wasn’t an easy decision given the size of their boat. "It's a really small tinny, and he had really long claws, so it was pretty scary and he wouldn't let us grab him,” says Sanchez Peregrin, who works at the National Marine Science Centre at Southern Cross University. “We almost gave up and left it all in the hands of natural selection."

Happily, after some hard work and a little creative wallaby wrangling, the group managed to get Swampy on board. As a precaution against those large claws, they tied the animal's legs with rope and placed a towel on his head to help him calm down.

Once back on solid ground, Swampy didn't hang around for long. “He stayed there for a bit, exhausted. Then he took off, bounced away towards the bush, never looking back. Weirdest thing that has happened to me in a while.”

So how did this wayward marsupial land up so far from shore? It's likely the wallaby was just trying to cool off, or perhaps he took to the water to escape a predator, suggests one expert.

This isn’t the first marsupial rescue mission we've seen this month – just last week, a pair of fishermen saved a wombat from drowning in a lake.

Wallaby Swimming 2015 12 14
Image: Laura Sanchez Peregrin
Wallaby In Boat 2015 12 14
Image: Laura Sanchez Peregrin
Wallaby Rescue Boat 2015 12 14
Image: Laura Sanchez Peregrin
Wallaby Back On Shore 2015 12 14
Image: Laura Sanchez Peregrin

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Top header image: Patrick Everding, Flickr