A Riverton, N.S. man doing research for his PhD is in hospital after getting struck by a boulder the size of a refrigerator on Digges Island in Nunavut, on Saturday.

Travis White, 31, was on Digges Island, just north of Ivujivik, Que., studying the thick-billed murre bird for his PhD.

He and other researchers were checking out a nesting site in steep terrain. He was three weeks into his expedition.

Crews

It took approximately 12 hours before the initial Canadian Forces search and rescue team could get to him due to foggy conditions. (Canadian Forces)

Luc Coates, a Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter pilot stationed in Gander, N.L., says the group of researchers were going down cliffs and had set up an anchor system with a rope to navigate some steep terrain. They had set up an anchor around a boulder, which dislodged, then rolled and struck White.

The rescue took approximately 12 hours before the initial Canadian Forces search and rescue team could get to him due to foggy conditions.

They found White injured but conscious.

Coates said a Canadian Forces search and rescue Hercules aircraft from Winnipeg arrived first on the scene. He says two technicians parachuted down to the island to assist White.

Hours later White was medevaced to a Winnipeg hospital where he's being treated. His friends and family are fundraising to offset costs for his parents to be there with him.

Fundraiser for White

The money raised from the Indiegogo campaign will pay for his parents to stay in Winnipeg by his side.

So far, more than $11,000 has been raised.

Rescue

Travis White was medevaced to a Winnipeg hospital where he's being treated. (Canadian Forces)

"We were all shocked initially, in disbelief and no one expected anything like that to happen,” said his brother Craig White, a doctor in Kentville, N.S. “The island had been an area of research for years and was deemed to be a very safe place."

He said his brother’s injuries are serious but could have been much worse.

"They were severe, but not life threatening and he was alert and awake and talking and just in a lot of pain,” he said.

White says he is thankful for the unexpected response from the community for the fundraiser. 

"Everywhere he goes, he makes an impression on people's lives and I guess it's proving true now."