Watch fishing lodge workers help free a beached baby whale

Baby minke whale in shallow water Photo by [Credit: Janelle Stapleton]

A baby minke whale beached itself in Haida Gwaii last month, but it survived the ordeal thanks to the efforts of fishing lodge workers.

Andy Adams, caretaker of the Samson Lodge in Naden Harbour, spotted the whale on the beach as he was going on a morning walk. “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 told the Northern View. He could tell the whale was very young and guessed it had been out of the water for around six hours.

Adams splashed water over the whale, then went to the nearby Queen Charlotte Lodge to get help. Eight workers grabbed buckets and followed Adams back to where the whale was stranded. Among the helpers was Janelle Stapleton, a cook at the lodge. “[The whale] was very still when we got there,” Stapleton recalled. “I definitely cried when I saw him. I mean, that amount of weight, just laying on the beach must be so uncomfortable. I can’t imagine.”

The workers quickly set up a line, passing buckets of water to keep the whale hydrated. Then they dug a trench to bring some water to the whale. “He really perked up when he got the water and blew a whole bunch of times,” Stapleton said.

When the tide came up, the workers were able to maneuver the whale into the water. It remained by their sides for ten to fifteen minutes, swimming away and returning to them, before setting off into the sea. Officers from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans showed up soon after and watched the whale for about 45 minutes, though they saw no sign of its mother.

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

Getting the whale back in the water at all was an incredible experience, according to Adams. “It was an amazing feeling,” he said. “Magical.”

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