February 19, 2010 04:48 PM

Just imagine the isolation, the loneliness, the fear. After floating alone for days on ice in the Baltic Sea, a mutt named Baltic was rescued 15 miles offshore by seamen.

Scientists on the Polish research ship Baltica were performing a customary oceanographic survey in the frigid waters on Jan. 26 and were making their last stop at about 3 p.m. when they looked out to see a dog, “just quietly going on floating ice.”

Sergio Neves, an oceanographer with the Institute for Meteorology and Water Management, was on the ship and tells PEOPLEPets.com that the ship’s captain stopped the boat at the shocking sight and sent a crew member down to attempt a rescue.

With so much ice in the water, the rescue proved challenging. The crew members first tried to use a net to retrieve Baltic, but were unsuccessful (click here to see a video of the rescue). Eventually, someone got close enough to grab a hold of the dog and bring him onto the ship, where rescuers wrapped his frozen body in towels and applied hot massage to warm him. They named him Baltic, after the sea.

“Our mission, our function is not to rescue dogs out of the water, as you can imagine!” Neves says, laughing. “We are scientists! But we were on the sea on this research ship and I think it is human to save the dog.”

Poland does not have many stray dogs, according to Neves, and after news of the rescue spread, the Baltica crew has been approached by numerous people claiming to be the dog’s owners. But so far, no one has proved credible enough for the crew to hand over their “mild, not aggressive” friend. So, Baltic will remain on the ship for now. Says Neves, “He’s a very nice dog.”

See more dramatic rescue stories on PEOPLEPets.com:

Update: Dog Rescued from L.A. Flood Is Doing Well

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