What started as a quiet early morning walk along a Nova Scotia beach led to beach goers rescuing a pilot whale on New Year’s Day.
A call for help went up online when the stranded whale was found on the sand meters away from nearby water at Rainbow Haven beach east of downtown Dartmouth, N.S.
Bundled up in winter gear, dozens rushed to the shore to help the whale.
Andrew Reid from the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) says he was amazed by the turn out of local help.
While the society led the rescue, volunteers from firefighters to surfers and neighbours of the sea came together to lend a hand.
With the tide working against them and a growing distance between the whale and water, the team installed flotation pontoons and pulled the whale.
“Keep pulling...keep pulling… freedom!” chanted one rescuer.
Together they pulled the mammal to the water’s edge and in a matter of minutes the whale was out of sight.
The crowd watched with concern as the whale disappeared. Reid says he believes the whale is in moderate condition and it will hopefully be able to rejoin its pod family.
“It’s unusual for a pilot whale to be by itself,” Reid says. “They’re extremely social species so when we get single stranded animals it is always a concern there's an underlying health issue. It seemed it had good body mass breathing good reflexes good so it seemed like an okay decision to try and refloat the animal give it the best chance possible."
Leaving foot prints in the sand, people left the beach more slowly than they had arrived as a sole paddle boarder and surfer stayed at the whale’s side.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Marie Adsett.