WATCH: Hero helpers rescue injured baby whale at Rainbow
AN INJURED baby whale owes its life to a group of Rainbow Beach residents who heroically winched it to safety after it was stranded more than 15m from the ocean this morning.
Michael Read and partner Melinda Small took just minutes to make it to the whale after it was spotted stranded on a patch of beach between Mudlo Rocks and Double Island Point about 6.30am.
The whale, about 2.5m in length was scratched and bruised and appeared to have struggled in the spot since high tide.
It was breathing, Mr Read said, but it's eyes were glazed over and it was partially buried in the sand.
Rescue authorities had not responded to calls in the early hour. and the couple were forced step in.
"It would have been exhausted and had no strength left," Mr Read said.
Joined by a woman and her two children, the small team dug sand out from one side of the whale, before using a car winch to manoeuvre it , Mr Read said.
"We kept rolling him into the shallow water and once we got him to that point he was basically floating. Then we pushed him around and he basically gave a flip of his tail and swam straight out into deeper water."
Incredibly, Mr Read said before disappearing he turned and swam alongside the shore.
"It was basically like saying 'Thank you and away I'm going' - it was amazing."
Mr Read could not believe the whale's strength when it entered the water.
"When we first turned up - I would have said he was not going to make it. But he went off like a bullet when he got going."