For as long as there have been humans there have been heroes, but before cameras became ubiquitous, heroics were captured only in story, painting or song. When someone does something heroic these days, there’s a good chance that someone else is nearby filming it with an iPhone.


There is something that makes you feel good when you watch a video of a hero stepping up to help someone. Here are some of the best to be found.


Construction worker plucks boater from danger

On the first day of July in 2009, Patricia Ralph-Neely and her husband, Alan Neely, were riding in their boat on the Des Moines River in Des Moines, Iowa. They failed to notice a large low-head dam and went over, tumbling out of the boat into the turbulent waters. Low-head dams are dangerous places to be and can trap anything caught in their spiraling waters.


The couple was caught in the backwash. Rescue efforts were quickly launched but were hindered by the difficulty in approaching them in the water.


After more than half an hour of rescue efforts, construction worker Jason Oglesbee and his crew jumped into action. Crane operator Joe Lowe hauled Oglesbee up on their construction crane and lowered the harnessed hardhat over the river. He grabbed Ralph-Neely and was able to haul her to a nearby rescue boat. Sadly, her husband drowned before he could be saved.


Oglesbee, Lowe and the rest of the crew then went right back to working on their project after the rescue.



Man in wheelchair takes down unruly customer

On Nov. 8, 2010, Larry Skopnik was caught on tape tackling a would-be counterfeiter who started to get physical with cashier Cindy Grewal after she noticed the bad bill he was trying to pass. It was a remarkably brave thing to do, made all the braver by the fact that Skopnik gets around in a wheelchair.


He didn't hesitate when he saw the man get angry and rush at Grewal behind the counter. He rolled over, grabbed the man, and hauled him to the ground. He was pulled out of his chair but he maintained control until others in the store took over. He pulled himself back into his chair like the awesome dude that he is and waited with the others until the police arrived.



Dog drags dog out of traffic

A hero isn't always a human. A few years back, a dog ran out into traffic on a busy highway in Chile and was struck by cars. Another dog saw the injured dog and braved the traffic to make his way to him. Despite the roaring traffic flowing all around them, the hero dog managed to drag the wounded dog to the side of the road. Workers eventually spotted the dogs and helped divert traffic.


The dog that was initially struck died, and the hero dog ran off and was never seen again.



Jumping ducklings get a hand

Joel Armstrong was at work when he spotted the nest of newly hatched ducklings perched on a second floor ledge near his office. The mother duck was eager to lead her babies to water but a 10-foot drop separated the birds and the ground. The ducklings were too young to fly and Armstrong feared that they'd be hurt if they jumped down to the concrete below.


So he went outside and stood underneath. Eventually the ducklings started coming. He caught the jumping babies, one by one, then with some friends led the ducks across traffic to the water, where they quickly paddled off.



Netted whale set free

Michael Fishbach, co-founder of the Great Whale Conservancy, narrates this video of him and his friends cutting discarded fishing net that was ensnaring a humpback whale. It took them more than an hour to free the whale but eventually they were victorious. The whale swam free.


What happened next is mind-blowing. The freed whale spent the next hour giving Fishbach and his friends the show of a lifetime, breaching, slapping and spinning. It's not hard to interpret the whale's actions as joyful thanks.


And if your heart doesn't melt around the 7:25 mark, well, then, I don't know what to say to you.


Visit the Great Whale Conservancy website to learn more about their work.


Also on MNN: Meet the happiest dogs on YouTube


MNN homepage illustration: Shutterstock

Shea Gunther is a podcaster, writer, and entrepreneur living in Portland, Maine. He hosts the popular podcast "Marijuana Today Daily" and was a founder of Renewable Choice Energy, the country's leading provider of wind credits and Green Options. He plays a lot of ultimate frisbee and loves bad jokes.

5 heroic acts caught on video
There is something that makes you feel good when you watch a video of a hero stepping up to help someone. Here are some of the best to be found.