A 17-year-old boy has been rescued from an ice floe on the frigid waters of Hudson Bay, near the Nunavut community of Coral Harbour.
Military search-and-rescue technicians reached the stranded youth on Monday morning after searchers aboard a Hercules aircraft spotted him dozens of kilometres away from the community.
The search technicians parachuted onto a nearby ice chunk, then negotiated the freezing Arctic waters to reach the boy, said Capt. Mike Young of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont.
"They had to bodysurf through some of the smaller bits of ice and water and get themselves over to the young man," Young told CBC News on Monday afternoon.
Young said rescuers immediately performed first aid on the teen, who was conscious and responsive on the ice floe. He was taken to Coral Harbour for a medical assessment, then was flown to a hospital in Churchill for further treatment.
RCMP said they will not be releasing his name at the request of his family.
Separated during hunting trip
Two Hercules aircraft from Trenton had resumed searching Monday morning for the teen after he became separated from local elder Jimmy Nakoolak, who residents say is the boy's uncle, as they were returning home from a weekend hunting trip.
Community members told CBC News that the pair split up after their snowmobiles broke down. They had been gone from Coral Harbour for about three nights, but it's unclear exactly when the teen became missing.
The ice cracked sometime after Nakoolak embarked on foot to get help, leaving the boy trapped on an ice pan about 50 metres by 50 metres in size.
Nakoolak was flown to Churchill to be treated for hypothermia, according to Coral Harbour RCMP. Coral Harbour is a hamlet of about 800 on the southern coast of Southampton Island at the mouth of Hudson Bay.
Dead polar bear nearby
Searchers first made contact with the teen late Sunday, when the ice floe was several kilometres off the shore of Coral Harbour. They monitored him in the dark using flares dropped from the Hercules aircraft untl they lost track of him.
By the time search crews found him again on Monday morning, he had been carried about 40 kilometres out into Hudson Bay, according to local RCMP.
While the boy is now safe, Young said searchers are still wondering about a dead polar bear they saw about 137 metres from where the youth was found.
"They assumed the young man shot it with the rifle that he had, probably in defence or [to] protect himself, I guess, through the night," Young said.
Young said it is not clear when the polar bear was shot, or who shot it.
"That seems to be the question of the day," he said. "I'm waiting for that as well, and the only one that will know is the young man."
According to Environment Canada, the temperature on Monday morning in Coral Harbour was –20 C, which felt like –26 with the wind chill.