VIDEO: Young minke whale rescued after beaching in Haida Gwaii

Staff from the Queen Charlotte Lodge and Sampson Lodge spent hours cooling off the newborn

Fishing-lodge workers in Haida Gwaii’s Naden Harbour cooled a beached minke whale for hours on Thursday until the tide rose and it swam back to sea.

Andy Adams, caretaker at Sampson Lodge, found the young whale at about 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 21. He saw it while walking around Kung, a Haida village site west of the narrows that leads into Naden.

“I was just walking around Kung on the beach, and for some reason I decided to walk into the bay, which I don’t normally do,” Adams said.

“It was just a young one — the fins still had a pinkish colour.”

Beached right at the last high-tide line, Adams guessed the whale had been out of water for over six hours. Its mother was nowhere in sight, and it had a few slight scrapes on its back.

Adams did what he could to haul up water and splash the whale to cool it, but it was too much for one person to do.

Just after noon, he went to Queen Charlotte Lodge for help. QCL had its last guests of the season on Sept. 4, but luckily there were still eight staff on hand to rig the lodge for winter.

Janelle Stapleton, a cook at Queen Charlotte Lodge, said everyone gathered empty buckets and set out together.

“He was very still when we got there,” Stapleton said, and they worried the whale might not survive.

“I definitely cried when I saw him,” she said. “I mean, that amount of weight, just laying on the beach must be so uncomfortable. I can’t imagine.”

READ MORE: Rescued sea otter pup Hardy meets a new friend

WATCH: Sea lion rescued, in care after being shot in the face

With the tide coming up and nine people working the bucket brigade, they managed to douse the whale with a lot more water. They dug a trench in the sandy beach so the water could pool a bit around the four-metre long whale.

“He really perked up when he got the water, and blew a whole bunch of times,” Stapleton said. “He got us right in the face!”

By the time high tide approached around 2:30 p.m., they had dug a deeper trench. Four people were able to turn the young whale toward the sea as larger waves came in and floated him a bit.

Finally, the water rose high enough only the whale’s dorsal fin was still in the air.

“He flipped his tail really hard, swam in a circle, and came right back to us,” Stapleton said.

“He just wasn’t ready yet — he sat for another 10 or 15 minutes and then left a final time.”

Local fisheries officers and volunteers with Masset Marine Rescue arrived from Masset just after the whale returned to sea.

The DFO officers watched the young whale for about 45 minutes, and although they did see a whale spout when they first arrived at Naden, they saw no other sign that the whale’s mother or pod might be around. DFO officials later confirmed it was a minke whale and not a humpback, judging by its small, banded pectoral fins.

From the scratches on its back, Stapleton said the group guessed that the young whale may have been scared from its mother by orcas.

“She was probably out there, hopefully,” she said. “We gave him a shot, so that’s all we can do.”

After about six hours eye-to-eye with the whale on the beach, Andy Adams said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to watch it swim free.

“It was an amazing feeling,” he said. “Magical.”

 

(Janelle Stapleton/Queen Charlotte Lodge)

(Janelle Stapleton/Queen Charlotte Lodge)

Just Posted

IT’S OFFICIAL: Mt. Timothy sale complete

New owners looking toward year-round mountain resort facility

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients to drop by 31 per cent: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

Bella Coola Harbour to receive federal funding

The amount of funding has not been announced yet

WANTED: Five sought by RCMP

Police asking for public’s assistance finding five people on outstanding warrants.

Carey Price breaks Canadiens goalie record with 315 wins

Habs netminder surpasses Jacques Plante’s record for most wins

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

‘The whole city has changed:’ B.C. woman in New Zealand reacts to mosque attacks

An expatriate and Muslim students at UBC Okanagan deeply affected by white supremacist shooting

Trudeau condemns hateful, ‘toxic segments’ of society after New Zealand shooting

Prime Minister expressed sorrow at the many attacks in recent years

Air Canada grounds its Boeing Max 8s until at least July 1 to provide certainty

Airlines around the world have been working to redeploy their fleets since their Max 8s were grounded last week

Budget to tout Liberal economic record, provide distraction from SNC furor

This is the Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

Most Read