Fishing Crew in Canada Rescue a Creature Trapped on an Iceberg
A crab fishing crew was busy seeking out the day’s catch in the frigid waters off Labrador, Canada. The experienced crew of the Northern Swan – Cliff Russell, Alan Russell, and Mallory Harrigan – were no strangers to the North Atlantic’s rough and icy waters. However, they encountered something unusual on this trip.
The crew discovered a strange creature trapped on an iceberg nearby. Seagulls were swooping down on the lonely creature, treating it as if it were prey. Harrigan and the two Russells were deeply moved by the situation and felt compelled to act. But when they drew closer, they were greeted by a startling discovery.
A New Experience for the Fishing Crew
It was an ordinary day on the Northern Swan, the boat owned by the three crew members. The crew were sailing in the direction of the town of Pinsent’s Arm. They intended to get fuel there as they usually do.
However, once the group arrived in town, their routine day took on a life of its own. Something caught their attention – something they had never encountered before in their years of fishing these waters.
A Mushroom Shaped Iceberg
The crew spotted a large iceberg around four miles off the coast. The fact that it resembled a mushroom caught the group’s attention. However, that wasn’t all. There was something more unbelievable that caught their eyes.
There was some type of animal perched on top of the iceberg, looking frightened and in need of assistance. How could something like that get on the top of an iceberg in the middle of the ocean? The crew had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
A Seal, Perhaps?
In an effort to identify the animal, the crew initially assumed that the animal was some sort of sea creature, like a seal. However, seals are marine mammals that dwell mostly in cold climates – no healthy seal would look that distressed on an iceberg.
Why didn’t it jump into the ocean and swim to safety? Since seals have webbed flippers which are designed for swimming, surely it could easily save itself by diving in and seeking out the rest of its colony.
A Very Lost Creature
As the crew drew closer, they realized it was not a seal, or even a sea creature. The crew concluded that it was not a sea mammal because it looked like it couldn’t swim. If it couldn’t swim, that meant the poor creature was stranded on the iceberg with no relief in sight.
The creature may have been stuck there for a very long time, meaning it was likely at risk of dying of starvation. Of course, that would only be the case if the crew of the Northern Swan didn’t get to work as soon as possible!
The Northern Swan Crew Came to the Rescue
Fortunately, husband-and-wife team Mallory and Cliff, and their son Alan, were all up to the challenge. There was no way the three of them were going to sail past the stranded animal without helping it.
However, the crew’s rescue operation would not be an easy one. Some people might have just sailed past the animal, but the crew was determined to save the poor creature.
Icebergs Can Be Dangerous
Indeed, icebergs can be very hazardous. The crew had to perform this mission with extreme caution, in order to avoid injury or worse.
Icebergs can be very unstable, and it’s possible that ice chunks can break off at any time. To prevent being hit by falling debris, people should generally keep a safe distance from icebergs.
What Was on Top of the Ice?
As the crew drew closer to the iceberg, they were taken aback. Harrigan spoke of the emotions they felt in an interview with The Dodo a few days after the shocking incident. “We believed it was a baby seal,” she explained.
However, it was not a baby seal, nor was it a sea mammal or a predatory bird from the region. What, then, had the team discovered?
A Little Arctic Fox
The crew members of the Northern Swan were surprised when they realized the creature they were staring at wasn’t a sea animal at all. It wasn’t a creature you’d expect to encounter out here in the middle of the ocean.
“It was a little Arctic fox,” Harrigan recalled to People magazine. These foxes are native to the far northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere and call the Arctic tundra home. They are well adapted to cold conditions and can be recognized by their thick, warm fur, which is also utilized for camouflage.
How Did a Fox Get Stuck on an Iceberg?
The Arctic fox is a carnivore that prefers to live inland, away from the beaches and the ocean. In order to survive, they are reliant on the presence of smaller creatures (most commonly lemmings). Burrowing is a common way of life for Arctic foxes.
That raises the question of how or why an arctic fox ended up stranded on an iceberg in the midst of a freezing sea. Cliff, as Harrigan reported to Bored Panda, had his own ideas on the situation.
The Berg Split Apart
As Harrigan explained, “It had probably been lost out there trying to find something to eat. Cliff believes he went out to look at some meat on the ice when it split apart, sending the little fox sailing out to sea.”
Taking everything into account, Cliff’s hypothesis appears tenable. Maybe when the small fox was trying to hunt for food, the iceberg cracked and sent the poor creature floating far away from the land and its home.
Arctic Foxes Can Withstand the Frigid Climate
Arctic foxes are hardy animals that thrive in climates humans couldn’t handle without plenty of tools, warm clothing, supplies, and survival gear. They’re fine with frigid Arctic temperatures as low as –58°F in the treeless land they call home.
Little features like their small ears, furry feet, and pint-sized snouts let them stay warm in temperatures well below zero degrees. However, when the three crew members of the Northern Swan discovered this fox, it appeared to be in serious distress.
The Rescue Operation Began
The little fox appeared to be on the verge of death because it was very malnourished and exposed to extreme cold. The predicament of the animal moved Harrigan and the Russells, but they were hesitant to step in and help.
In addition to the iceberg’s inherent risks, there was also the fact that the fox was an untamable wild animal. They had no idea how it would behave if they approached it all of a sudden. It could very well attack them.
The Fox Refused to Come Aboard
However, the crew was persistent and decided to take action with the aim of saving the little fox’s life. When the boat got close enough to the iceberg, they threw some bait to get the animal to come aboard.
However, as Harrigan later recounted to Bored Panda, the animal was apprehensive about abandoning the iceberg in favor of the boat. It seems like the fox was having a hard time trusting the crew and deciding whether or not it should jump to safety.
A Hard Time
It was difficult to get the fox on board at first since it thought it might be attacked by the humans. The little fox must have been completely perplexed by what was happening to it, especially in light of the fact that it was already suffering.
The group wanted to help, but they were also extremely concerned in case the fox reacted aggressively. It was, after all, a wild animal that could endanger them. So, they had to think through how they could successfully rescue the poor, confused creature.
A Determined Crew
However, the workers put their fears aside and focused on the task at hand. After all, if they abandoned the animal, it would very certainly die, and they could not let that happen to the poor little fox.
“We felt we were his only hope of survival because the winds had shifted and were pushing the iceberg farther out to sea,” Harrigan explained to The Dodo. If the crew abandoned the little fox, it would surely die out at sea.
Scooped Out of the Freezing Waters
The animal continued to put up a valiant battle. To regain control over the situation, the team had to move quickly. The fox was struggling to avoid getting in the hands of the crew.
They had no choice but to bring him into the water and catch him in the dip net. To do this, they had to break off the chunk of ice he was resting on.
A Successful Rescue Effort
The fox struggled mightily once it was submerged in the frigid water, but it eventually ran out of energy. When that moment came, the crew had no problem lifting the small fox aboard as it was not fighting anymore.
After that, they constructed a makeshift bed for the injured creature to relax and recoup its energy. The poor fox had lost all his energy due to starvation and struggling for survival. So, it was important for it to get some rest.
The Fox Refused to Eat
In an interview with People, Harrigan described how the fox crawled into a corner and curled into a ball. This may have been because the fox was still afraid of the crew members, or it could have been its way to maintain what body warmth it had left.
The crew offered him chips and crackers and whatever else they could find, but the fox refused to eat for an extended period of time. Of course, this was a problem, as the animal was starving and malnourished, and it needed to eat in order to replenish its energy.
A Worrying Afternoon
The crew were concerned that their rescue efforts might have been in vain since the fox was refusing to eat. In the fox’s world, this was still a strange and dangerous situation. It had no way of knowing what was happening to it.
While first reluctant to use its new sawdust bed, the creature eventually settled in and began to feel more comfortable. It was a relief to see the small fox settling into the makeshift bed prepared by its rescuers.
The Fox Fell Into a Deep Sleep
According to Harrigan, the fox fell asleep almost immediately after curling up in its bed. It must have been sleep-deprived given the situation it was rescued from. The crew could only imagine the stress it suffered when it was stranded on the berg.
For several hours, the little creature was unable to awaken from this deep slumber. Though the fox didn’t understand at the time, its horrible ordeal was finally over.
The Fox Finally Ate
The little fox did wake up eventually. As Harrigan described to Bored Panda, this was the time at which it finally consumed some food. It must have been a relief for the crew when the creature finally ate the nourishing food they were offering.
“For the first five or six hours, he wouldn’t eat a thing,” Harrigan said. Despite the crew’s efforts, he refused chips and crackers. When he finally woke up, they gave him a tin of Vienna sausages. Perhaps the little fox just didn’t recognize dry crackers as food!
Releasing the Fox on Land
The fox appeared to relax a little after the crew indicated to him that they were only trying to help him. The little guy must have been afraid of the crew at first, which is why he was acting hostile and evasive.
After what seemed like an eternity, the fox managed to get some food and some more sleep, and the crew felt a great sense of relief. After arriving at their port, the crew of the Northern Swan released the little fox on dry land.
The Fox Might Have Been Stranded for Weeks
Although it’s impossible to know for sure how long the little fox had been trapped on the iceberg, his appearance did provide one hint. It was only later that a friend of Harrigan told them that an Arctic fox should have brown fur at this time of year. This allows them to remain hidden once the ice has thawed.
The little fox’s coat was mostly white, which was an indication of how long he had been out there on top of the iceberg. It could have been weeks, Harrigan explained to People magazine.
Right Place at the Right Time
As Harrigan said, the Arctic fox became stranded on that iceberg, most likely while on the prowl for some food. It’s likely that the animal was just trying to survive, but he ended up getting into a difficult predicament.
The fox was saved by chance and by good people who just so happened to sail past at the exact right time. We don’t want to imagine what would have happened to the poor little fox if Harrigan and her crew did not see him.
On the Verge of Death
If the crew had not passed by that iceberg at precisely the right moment, the fox would have been stranded at sea, with little chance of returning to land. In the worst-case scenario, the fox would have perished on the ice.
The winds had shifted southwest as well, according to Harrigan. Because of this, he would have merely gone farther out to sea, with his hope of survival diminishing by the minute. We are so happy the crew found him when they did.
A Lucky Little Arctic Fox
In the end, it was luck – and a caring bunch of individuals – that saved the fox’s life. After the fox had been fed, his saviors let him go so that he could run free on the land and get back to living his own life.
“We dropped him off in an old doghouse,” Harrigan told The Dodo. “That was it! He just shook himself off!” The fox must have been relieved to finally feel the land beneath his feet again. Hopefully, he enjoyed a few days of rest in that little house.
A Celebrity Fox
This little Arctic fox has become somewhat of a celebrity as a result of his harrowing experience. News of his rescue spread all over the world, and many people were touched by this incredible story.
Local people were in awe to have heard about the rescue of the little fox, but they were even more surprised to learn how famous it made their little town.
Harrigan Is Happy for the Fox
Harrigan was overjoyed for the little Arctic fox. She was also thrilled that she had a hand in saving him from the iceberg. “He became the buzz of our small neighborhood, but we never anticipated him to create waves around the world!” she said in an interview with People.
“We’re pretty pumped up about this,” she added. It is understandable that the crew who saved the poor fox from the iceberg was excited and happy to learn that their story had touched the hearts of many people.