Community rescues stranded whale in -4 degree temps

Posted at 7:52 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-02 19:52:06-05

RAINBOW HAVEN BEACH, NOVA SCOTIA (CBC/CNN) - A group of Canadians spent the first day of the New Year racking up karma points.

About 100 people braved frigid temperatures to help a beached whale back out to sea.

A temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius (about -4 Fahrenheit) with the wind-chill wasn't going to stop these volunteers in Nova Scotia, Canada.

"I saw somebody post on a Facebook group that there was a beached whale and they were looking for help. So, I got in the truck and drove out," said volunteer Richard Stanbrook.

The pilot whale was Injured from thrashing around in the sand, so the group had to move fast.

Professional marine rescuers arrived on the scene and got the heavy animal onto a raft.

"It's unusual for a pilot whale to be by itself. They're an extremely social species, so when we get single stranded animals, it is always a concern that there's an underlying health issue," said Andrew Reid, of the Marine Animal Response Society.

The rescuers thought they would need a boat, but with the number of volunteers, it wasn’t necessary.

A human chain formed with rescuers, firefighters, even passers-by with their dogs stopped to help, pulling the whale back to the icy water.

"It's a pretty amazing experience, it's pretty cool to see all kinds of people just helping and doing anything they can to save this mammal that could potentially live or die," said volunteer rescuer Jen Jackson.

The whale wasn’t out of out of the woods once it was back in the water because the tide was out – it was too shallow for it to swim.

The volunteers helped the pilot whale along, repeatedly pushing it off sandbars as it got stuck on the way, never leaving its side.

After nearly 30 minutes in the water with the rescuers, the whale started swimming on its own, giving them hope that the community effort saved its life.

Experts don't know if the whale will survive, but said the volunteers boosted its chances.

Much of its future will depend on whether it can find its pod of fellow whales.

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