Rescuers raced against the clock to free a cow trapped in thick mud - saving the animal from the Morecambe Bay tide with just minutes to spare.
It took four hours to pull the frightened cow out after it became trapped on the banks of the River Lune at Overton, opposite Lancaster Golf Club.
And fire crews, the RNLI, a Coastguard team and other rescuers had the perilous incoming tide lapping at their ankles as they finally dragged the beached bovine free on Friday.
Two sets of firefighters from Lancaster were called at 10.28am after the stranded animal was spotted by a concerned resident.
A request was sent for Morecambe RNLI’s hovercraft to attend to give safety cover along with Bay Search and Rescue.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said it was decided the incident would best be accessed from the opposite river bank.
Appliances relocated to get access to the cow from the far side of the river, east of Overton village.
Bay Search and Rescue brought in its specialist tracked Hagglund vehicle to take firefighters and equipment to where the cow was trapped.
The RNLI said the hovercraft quickly identified the frightened animal, which had sunk deep into thick mud and was unable to move anything but its head.
While waiting for Bay Search and Rescue to arrive with lifting gear, the hovercraft crew began working to free the animal using their own mud rescue equipment.
Both teams then worked together, using the hovercraft’s mud lance and pumping water into the mud from the vehicle’s ballast tanks.
Lifting equipment on the Bay Search and Rescue vehicle was used to finally haul the beast free “with minutes to spare from the incoming tide,” the RNLI said.
Morecambe RNLI hovercraft crew member Colin Midwinter added: “This operation was an excellent example in demonstrating how the combined resources and expertise of the various rescue organisations can achieve successful outcomes under challenging circumstances.”
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “All three organisations worked as one for several hours, ever mindful of the impending high tide, utilising their specialist equipment, skills and teamwork, concluding the incident with the incoming tide lapping at their ankles and the safe extrication of the cow.”
Watch manager Martin Sherwood, of Blue Watch at Lancaster Fire Station, who coordinated rescue operations at the scene, added: “This is a prime example of how statutory and voluntary rescue organisations can work together to ensure the safe and successful conclusion of rescue operations.”