The message read: If you are handy to Cow Bay, please go help out!
An image was attached:
I called my friend Amy-Lynn who lives in Cow Bay and told her that a call had gone out for help to rescue a beached Pilot Whale, stranded on the beach at Rainbow Haven. She, her hubby and her two grandsons bundled up and drove there.
They were among the first to show up, but soon had lots of company.
People brought buckets and shovels to try to make a channel to drag the whale out to sea. Unfortunately the tide was out and not coming in any time soon.
So how do you get a 2-4 ton whale down a beach to the water.
The Marine Animal Response Society arrived with the solution.
A flattened inflatable boat was worked under the stricken whale. It was gradually inflated.
Then in spite of the minus 20 degree temperature the rescuers struggled to maneuver the heavy whale hundreds of metres past the shallows out into deeper water.
Among those rescuers were local surfers and volunteer fire fighters. Some of those rescuers stayed out in the bitter water for over an hour taking the whale into deeper water.
At this point I'll let Carolyn Ray of the CBC pick up the story:
Annette Thompson, an off-duty firefighter and former commercial diver, was one of two remaining people in the water along with Ben Hawkins. By that point, they had no flotation device and were trying to return to land, but there was a new challenge.
Pilot whales are extremely social creatures. This one had bonded to its rescuers.
"We righted him several times," Thompson said. "Ben and I stayed with him as long as we could. Unfortunately, he kept following us to shore."
Thompson said it was like dealing with one of her dogs.
"I kept saying to him, 'you can't come home with me, you have to go back,' and he'd just look at you and you could hear him breathe. It was just absolutely amazing."
Hawkins managed to separate from the animal first, but the whale stayed by Thompson's side. Finally, King on his paddleboard managed to get between the animal and his rescuer.
Hawkins managed to separate from the animal first, but the whale stayed by Thompson's side. Finally, Todd King on his paddleboard managed to get between the animal and his rescuer.
"Eventually — this is after three or four attempts — I got Annette into the reef at a point where she was safe," King said. The whale then started following King on his board, so he headed to deep, open water.
The paddleboarder Todd King, led the whale into deeper water:
"Most of the time, I was at risk of hitting the whale with my paddle — that's how close he was," King said. "As we paddled along, he got stronger and stronger."
When they finally got about two kilometres away, the animal started swimming away.
"The whale just rolled on his side and looked me in the eye," King said.
There have been no sightings of the whale since, which rescuers hope is a sign it has rejoined its pod.
Happy New Year everyone !