An environmental official in Canada is being hailed as a hero after he helped save seven beached whales that washed ashore in Newfoundland.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company and The Central Voice newspaper, Ryan Collier, a resource enforcement officer in Embree, Newfoundland, got a call on the morning of Sept. 22 that eight long-finned pilot whales had beached themselves.
He quickly called the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but they told him that they wouldn't be able to help for several hours. Collier said that while he typically doesn't deal with beached whales, he sprang into action.
Collier drove to the beach and immediately began pushing each whale, little by little, out to sea. He was assisted by nature when the tide came in, but he found he still needed to direct the whales after they were able to resume swimming.
Though one whale had died before he arrived at the scene, Collier said he was able to save six whales — which were about six to seven feet long — on his own, a task that took about three hours.
"I couldn't give up. I can't remember how long I was there working on a few of them, but I'll never forget when I let the first one go and give it a push out into deep water," Collier said. "I just stood up and watched this guy swim off in deep water, and I was like, 'That's fantastic. That's one, let's see if I can do another.'"
At that point, Collier said he was "exhausted" and could tell mild stages of hypothermia were setting in. Still, there was one whale remaining that needed help; the largest of the bunch, a 14-footer.
Luckily, two fellow officers, Mitchell Gillingham and Ryan Knott, and arrived to help. Collier went home, dried off, put on fishing waders and returned in time to help his co-workers push the last whale back out to sea.
"It was definitely one of the highlights of my career even though it had nothing to do with my job whatsoever," Collier told The Central Voice.