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

Snowbirds fly over Tofino and Ucluelet

“We had front row seats.”

West Coast fishers see empty seas, demand Pacific Salmon Treaty funding

“Right now, if this continues, I think most fishermen will be bankrupt in a couple of years.”

Ucluelet mayor says pipeline and spill response plan both needed

“We are a society that cannot exist without oil and gas and plastics at this point in time.”

Tofino and Ucluelet host youth soccer tournament

Teams from Port Alberni and Nanaimo travel in for one-day sporting event.

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

Nations call federal government to settle fishing rights ‘within the true meaning of reconciliation’

Complaint filed against B.C. naturopath who treated boy with rabid dog saliva

BC Naturopathic Association questions Dr. Anke Zimmermann’s conduct on recent treatments

Judge to give decision Friday in Gabriel Klein ‘fitness’ hearing

Man accused in Abbotsford school stabbing could have trial delayed due to mental-health issues

Province steps up to help Catalyst Paper in war against U.S. duties

Paper company hit with more than 28 per cent in American tariffs

Update: Police chief calls constable a fallen hero during public funeral

Late Victoria cop mourned by officers from numerous local, out-of-town jurisdictions

Government has no solution for dangerous stretch of Highway 1

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok met with the Ministry to talk about the dangers around Highway 1

B.C. couple caught in Kootenay Pass avalanche

Just after the ministry carried out avalanche control and opened the highway a Rossland couple was almost swept away by snow

Most Read