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

One fatality in Highway 97 collision in Vernon

Two vehicles involved in crash that has halted traffic

Peeved with speeding drivers

The owner of property spanning Highway 97A near Mara is done with having to repair her fence.

Mr. Mikes to open in place of Urban Market

Restaurant expected to be open by the summer

It’s all in the black for Roots & Blues

While they didn’t rake in the dough, the 2017 event made a modest profit

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler pleads not guilty in U.S. court

Colin Martin continues to fight allegations relating to cross-border drug smuggling operation

What’s happening

Find out about events happening in your community this weekend

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Most Read