Volunteers rush to help beached whale

Dozens raced to a Nova Scotia beach on New Year’s Day to help return a stranded pilot whale back to sea

Dozens of volunteers — including surfers, police, fisheries officials and passersby — raced to a Nova Scotia beach on New Year’s Day to help return a stranded pilot whale back to sea.

“The number of people that came out was great and everyone was willing to work together and give this animal its best chance,” Andrew Reid of the Marine Animal Response Society said Tuesday.

Reid said the whale, which could weigh between 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms, was first spotted at about 9 a.m. Monday on Rainbow Haven Beach in Cow Bay by someone out for a stroll.

The local resident sent Reid pictures of the animal — a male pilot whale that appeared to be in fairly good condition.

Reid headed to the area with his rescue gear, as a call went out on Facebook for people join in on the effort to remove the whale from the beach, which is about a half hour from downtown Halifax.

The response, he said, was surprising as roughly 100 volunteers descended on the popular beach to pitch in.

“We definitely had more than enough people to pull it. I had to ask people to slow down when we were initially pulling it off the beach because we were practically jogging with the animal!”

Reid inspected the whale, which showed no signs of injury or sickness and responded well to awareness tests. With a laugh, he added that the whale was “actively defecating” during the rescue, a good sign since it indicates he had been eating.

The volunteers laid a flotation pontoon next to the animal and carefully rolled it onto a mat before dragging it off the beach. Reid, some volunteers and a few surfers in wet suits walked the animal out into deeper water before releasing it.

They also had to erect a windbreak to shield it from bitter winds, and cover it in blankets as it appeared to be getting frostbite. He said the animal was breathing rapidly, which was likely due to the stress of being surrounded by people.

“After the animal was refloated and left the area, we went up the coast and talked to a few people who saw the animal swimming by, heading out to deeper water,” he said. “As far as we know he left the area and can hopefully find its pod or another pod again.”

Reid said the whale, a male adult, may have become stranded after trying to navigate the area’s shallow sandbars just offshore. He said the highly sociable species normally travel with family or in groups of up to about 50 whales.

There are concerns the lone whale could return.

“Given the time of year and that it was alone, we are worried it may turn up again.”

Pilot whales don’t normally stay in the area at this time of year. He said they tend to feed off the western shore of Cape Breton in the summer before heading much further south to their wintering grounds.

Just Posted

Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

Deadfalls in Salmon Arm pose risk for wildfires

Resident emphasizes need for fuel management plan in Little Mountain Park.

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

More thunderstorms on the way as fires still burn

Environment Canada is forecasting lightning for the Okanagan and Shuswap

Update: More lightning forecast as storm sparks 38 new wildfires in B.C.

22 new fires in are burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre according to the BC Wildfire Service.

Update: Evacuation order issued after Peachland wildfire hits 200 hectares

The BC Wildfire Service is battling a large wildfire alongside Highway 97 in Peachland.

Breaking: Okanagan Mountain Park fire forces evacuation alert

Properties from 6006 to 8888 Lakeshore Road are being placed on an evacuation alert

Okanagan Mountain Park fire forces evacuation alert

Properties from 6006 to 8888 Lakeshore Road are being placed on an evacuation alert

Cluster of fires fans smoke over West Kelowna

A cluster of three fires are burning above West Kelowna

Update: Summerland wildfire forces PIB state of emergency

More than 40 firefighters are on scene of the wildfire near Mount Conkle, just outside of Summerland.

Hockey trip fraudster receives house arrest

Man duped 16 families with Okanagan Elite Hockey Association out of over $100,000

Four wild fires still burning near Keremeos

One fire was extinguished and another reported after lightning came through area

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Most Read