Nfld. & Labrador

'I'd do it all over again': Port au Choix men help free beached whale

A group of men spent an evening in the water near Port au Choix this week trying to help a beached minke whale get back out to sea.

Todd House and two others spent a few hours knee-deep in freezing waters trying to free distressed whale

Todd House, right, and two other men spent 45 minutes knee-deep in the freezing waters near Port au Choix on Monday trying to free a beached minke whale. (Brenda's Photography)

A group of men from Port au Choix, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, spent a cold evening in the water this week trying to help a beached minke whale get back out to sea.

I just went in with my pants, a pair of jeans and my sneakers on.- Todd House

Todd House noticed two men – Bjorn Kelly and Mitch Hatch – in the frigid water near an area known as Eastern Point on Monday night, trying to rescue the whale. 

House then ventured into the water to help the two others out.

"I just went in with my pants, a pair of jeans and my sneakers on," he told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

"At that time I didn't know what to do. One of the young men there was actually grabbing it by its back fin and trying to push it out by himself."

House says the minke whale was clearly distressed and running low on energy as they tried to get it back out in the open waters of the North Atlantic. (Brenda's Photography)

House said the whale was visibly distressed and quite tired-looking, and he and the other men weren't having much luck getting it to move across the sand and farther out.

With stamina running low, House got the idea to run ashore and find a few pieces of two-by-four to try to lift the whale off the ground.

"That's what we used, just to slowly put it in under so far and just push the whale so much," he said.

The three men used two-by-fours to try and dislodge the whale from the sticky sand below. They managed to get it out farther than it had been but had to give up their efforts after 45 minutes. By the morning, the whale was gone. (Brenda's Photography)

After 45 minutes up to their knees in the icy waters — and having moved the whale only a few feet — the three men finally gave up, with the hope that the tide would come in and help the whale get free. They went home, and agreed they would keep an eye on it.

When they returned the next morning, the whale was gone, presumably having swam off in deeper waters.

A wildlife officer on the beach told them if the whale was wounded or sick it would likely return to the beach to die, but so far that hasn't happened which is a good sign.

House said he's content knowing the men may have played a role in saving the whale's life.

"I felt good about it," he said. "I'd do it all over again."

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show