A fin whale that became stranded ina shallow inlet just off of St. Ann’s Bay, N.S. has been saved, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Stranded and helpless, the nine-metre, eight-tonne whale became beached in just three feet of water Wednesday morning.

A crowd gathered on shore, concerned about its fate.

“I see the animal struggling and I’m pulling for the animal, that’s why I’m here,” said area resident Lillian MacLeod.

“We’re all hoping he gives a lurch and floats himself off,” said resident Aaron Schneider.

Crews from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean and the Marine Animal Response Society responded to the scene.

Initial efforts to free the whale failed as the animal was far too large to be freed from the shallow waters.

The whale was having trouble breathing and rescuers were concerned the rocky bottom was threatening its vital organs.

“We’re gonna give it a try, with two sets of rescue pontoons, once the tide comes back in a bit more, to help with some of that weight, so we can tow it out to open ocean,” said Andrew Reid of the Marine Animal Response Society.

The plan worked. Thanks to a higher tide, crews were able to secure two sets of inflatable pontoons under the whale, which helped it to float. Then they attached the animal to a boat and tugged it out to deeper water.

“I’m elated, just elated,” said MacLeod. “It’s such a wonderful feeling and they worked so hard to get the animal afloat.”

“When I first came, I thought it was just about dead, but now it’s getting pretty lively,” said area resident Mike Crimp.

Rescuers said the young whale seemed to pick up energy as it was herded back to the ocean.

They expressed concerns that the whale could be sick or injured, which could have led to its becoming stranded on the beach. For now, they hope it was just an inexperienced animal that got lost looking for food.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald