Fishermen Spot Animal Stuck On Iceberg. They Get Closer and Freeze When They See What It Really Is.

As crab fishermen, Mallory Harrigan and Cliff Russell know the beauty and power of the sea as well as anyone. In their years working the frigid, rough waters of the Labrador Sea, they have experienced mother nature at her most exquisite and her most treacherous. No day is the same.

Mallory and Cliff encounter novel sights and situations so frequently that they have come to expect the unexpected. But they were definitely not expecting to find what they did that morning in June.

Like any other workday, they had set out off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada with the hope of returning with heaps of the sea’s bounty. Snow crab is the primary catch, but coldwater shrimp, flounder, haddock and various other fish are all plentiful in this North Atlantic fishery. On this day, however, they would return with another type of creature entirely.

At first, they thought it was a seal. They figured he’d popped up from his watery home to sun himself on that iceberg. But they quickly realized that it wasn’t a seal. In fact, the animal wasn’t supposed to be in the water at all. The fishing boat crew could see that this terrified creature was in dire need of their help. Even in the face of profound danger, they knew they had to try.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

It started like a typical day. Mallory and Cliff, who are partners in life as well as fishing, woke up early in their hometown of William’s Harbour on the southern coast of Labrador, the mainland portion of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Then they headed to the harbor to start gearing up their small crab fishing boat, The Northern Swan, for another workday. Like all fishermen, they aim to get an early start since dawn and dusk generally provide the best fishing conditions.

Vickie Emms/Pixabay

There was a small hiccup that morning, however. As Mallory later told People magazine, “We were off to a late start. . . there had been an unusual amount of ice that prevented us from getting out.”

Sea ice that drifts toward shore can be a major hassle for fishermen eager to set out for a day’s work. Fortunately, The Northern Swan crew was able to navigate the situation and leave the harbor this time. At other times, the ice pack is virtually impenetrable, leaving fishing crews stuck onshore and unable to make their living.


You may be saying to yourself: Ice? In June? But don’t forget where this incredible story occurred: the farthest northeast corner of Northern America. In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador is so far north that Greenland is practically a neighbor (as you can see on this map).

In Labrador’s subarctic climate, winter temperature readings below −40 °F are not uncommon. Just a little bit north of Mallory and Cliff’s coastal location, the province is sheer tundra year-round. Between December and June, the Labrador coastline is largely covered in ice.

Alan Russell/Facebook

When enough of the ice had cleared, they finally headed out to the open sea. A little late, but still hopeful about their prospects for the day.

On this day, Cliff’s son Alan joined them to help out on the boat (as he often does). The Russell family has been fishing the Labrador waters for generations; Alan is always a welcome addition to TheNorthern Swan crew.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Fishing is among the toughest professions. The hours are long and the conditions harsh. The physical labor is exhausting.

Working on a fishing boat crew of only three people might be more than some can handle. But these three fishermen are exceptionally passionate about their work. Plus, they have enough experience under their belts to embrace the various challenges of their occupation with confidence.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

One challenge facing commercial fishermen is that there are some days when the fish just won’t bite. Sometimes, it’s because the boat or the crab pot is simply in the wrong spot. Other times, however, it seems they’re just not hungry.

Experience helps develop sharper intuition about the best locations on a given day, but in fishing, there is always one particularly frustrating element: luck. Some crab and lobster fishermen have likened pulling up pots to buying lucky bags — you never know what you’re going to get.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Mallory and Cliff have had their share of disappointing days when they returned with little to show for all of their grueling efforts. But they are more than fortunate than many: the Labrador coast happens to be one of the most fertile fishing grounds on the planet.

The Labrador Current is a cold water current that shoots down from the Arctic Ocean, clinging to the Newfoundland and Labrador coast until it arrives at the Grand Banks, a series of underwater plateaus off of Newfoundland.

It is in these shallow waters that the cold current meets the balmy Gulf Stream as it ambles its way north. The head-on collision of the cool current from the north and the warm current from the south continually stirs the water, lifting nutrients that feed the fish.


Thanks to this aspect of global ocean currents, the seas that Mallory and Cliff fish today have supported the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries. European explorers first discovered the area’s rich sea life in the late 15th century. Fishing vessels soon arrived and they never stopped coming.

The astounding breadth of aquatic life in these waters has included groundfish, lumpfish, mackerel, flounder, capelin, seal, and Greenland halibut, as well as shellfish like lobster, snow crab, and surf clams. But, more than any other species, cod has driven the region’s commercial fishing industry.

Alan Russell/Facebook

Unfortunately, 500 years of large scale fishing takes an inevitable toll on an ocean ecosystem. Starting in the mid-20th century, a series of technological advances in fishing equipment resulted in an ever-increasing number of fish being caught by commercial boats.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishermen enjoyed unprecedented boom years through the 1970s and 1980s. However, their decades of bountiful catches had a tragic (though perhaps foreseeable) consequence: rapid depletion of the fish population. Mismanagement of the fishery, including overestimates of the remaining stock was a major factor. By 1992, the cod population had dropped to 1% of 1980s levels.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

In 1992, the Canadian government declared a moratorium on cod fishing — instantaneously putting 37,000 Newfoundland and Labrador residents out of work. It wasn’t just the fishermen, either. The regional economy was the cod industry. Once the cod was off the boat, there were fish plant workers, sellers, transporters, etc. Most everyone had at least one family member affected.

The government promised that the prohibition would only last a couple of years. It’s been 28. Sadly, efforts to reestablish the cod population have proven unsuccessful: the damage to the ecosystem appears irreversible.

The collapse of the cod industry had devastating economic consequences for the region, necessitating federal income assistance and job retraining programs. For decades, record unemployment and emigration rates persisted. By 2011, roughly 66,000 people had moved out of the province in search of work.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

At long last, the local economy started to recover in 2010. Driven largely by an energy and resources boom, employment rates, regional investment and even population numbers have increased.

For the region’s fishermen, the economic picture vastly improved as well — thanks to a huge proliferation of snow crab beginning in 2000. One-time cod fishermen have adapted to become crab fishermen, and the fishing industry has followed suit. In some years, profits have even hit pre-moratorium levels.

Alan Russell/Facebook

Unfortunately, the snow crab population that had skyrocketed for 15 years began to decline in 2015. Since then, the commercial fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador has been subject to fluctuating “Total Annual Catch” limits.

For Mallory and Cliff, along with everyone else in the region who relies on fishing for his or her livelihood, the situation is far from ideal. Their ancestors had the luxury of counting on an eternal supply of cod. Today, however, they know that the fish population is limited and must make every catch count. The pressure is intense.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

On this particular June morning, TheNorthern Star crew headed straight for a crabbing hot spot they’d recently discovered. They enjoyed calm seas and relatively clear skies during the four-mile voyage. Still, they couldn’t shake off the sense that this might be a disappointing day.

While they had been enjoying a fantastically successful fishing season, they knew they couldn’t rely on their good fortune to continue. Especially since it was coming to the end of crab season. Would today mark the end of their amazing run? Was their luck running out?

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

With this anxiety lurking in their thoughts, they pulled into their favorite spot and dropped their pots into the dark water. The baskets sank slowly down to the ocean floor. Now, they just had to wait and hope that the bait they’d set would lure loads of crabs.

What a thrill it must have been to pull the cages back up and see that their luck was still going strong! The crew high-fived each other in delight. After getting their massive crustacean haul on deck, they decided to give it another go in the same spot. And yet again, the cages came back up brimming with crabs!

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Given their amazing luck right off the bat, the crew was excited to keep going. Could they add even more to their already impressive haul? All three of them were up for the challenge.

When they’d decided their first spot was probably tapped for the day, the crew conferred about where the next destination should be. Cliff proposed another spot where they’d had luck in the past. It was a tempting idea, but there was a complicating factor: the new spot was further out and less predictable. They had to decide if the possibility of another massive haul was worth the danger of sailing in risky conditions.

Bmpower at English Wikipedia

The experienced sailors were aware of the potential risks of venturing further out into the Labrador Sea. And they knew another thing all too well: their chosen occupation is the most dangerous one in the country. What’s more, their region is the most treacherous of all: Newfoundland and Labrador has twice the national rate of search and rescue incidents. In an average year, 600 lives are saved and 18 lives lost off the coast of the province.

What makes these waters so hazardous for fishermen? Partially, the exact same reason that the area is such a rich fishing ground: the collision of the cold Labrador Current and the warm Gulf Stream in the Grand Banks, just south of Mallory and Cliff’s fishing location.

flickr/Defence Images

As the ocean currents converge at the Grand Banks, so do the masses of air above them. The air atop each current reflects the temperature beneath. When the wet, warm air from the south reaches the Grand Banks, the cold air traveling south cools the Gulf Stream. Cooling, in turn, condenses the water vapor, resulting in heavy fog. How heavy? The Grand Banks is the foggiest place on the face of the Earth.

The fog can destroy visibility for those on the water. But what accompanies the fog is even more hazardous to sailors: strong winds. Typically, wind disperses fog, but in this case, the fog is so thick and widespread that the wind doesn’t clear it.

Storms here are serious business. Hurricane-force winds of 80 miles per hour and 45-foot waves aren’t unheard of.

Alan Russell/Facebook

The crew of The Northern Swan considered all the factors: the inherent dangers, the time, the weather patterns and, of course, the potential bounty they might score. Eventually, they came to a unanimous decision: Let’s go for it!

They sailed on toward the next destination, feeling optimistic about their chances and confident in The Northern Swan‘s seaworthiness, as well as their own seamanship. As they traveled further, however, the crew’s self-assurance started to dwindle.

Royal Canadian Air Force

What caused their shrinking courage? Ice. Scattered chunks from broken up sheets of ice floating on the surface around them. This was the same thick sea ice that had caused their delay in the morning. Then, they could avoid it by staying on shore until it had safely cleared. Out here on the water, however, it was a different story.

Mallory and Cliff knew the scenario well: a fishing captain, under pressure to earn money, assesses the ice situation and optimistically decides his boat can break through it. But the thickness of sea ice is hard to assess from a distance, as is the amount of surface cover. The captain unwittingly steers the boat directly into a chokehold of ice.

Royal Canadian Air Force

Canadian search and rescue responders have answered SOS calls from captains in this dire predicament more than a few times. In some cases, icebreaking ships can break the ice up enough to clear a safe path to shore for the trapped boat. But sometimes, the ice is so thick that an even an icebreaker can’t penetrate it. In that case, the Coast Guard has only one option: airlift the crew members by helicopter and abandon the boat.

In the worst-case scenario, the boat is pierced by a chunk of ice and starts taking on water. In that case, the crew has to pray that they sink slowly enough for the search and rescue team to arrive.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

And then there are the icebergs. For anyone who ventures into Newfoundland and Labrador waters, the specter of the Titanic is difficult to escape. As TheNorthern Swan sailed further out into the sea that morning, the towering icy reminders of that terrible tragedy were impossible for the crew to ignore.

Just over a century ago, the British ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland; it sank in under three hours. Fewer than one-third of the 2200 passengers survived.

Newfound and Labrador has a unique association with the historic disaster. This is partly due to the proximity (the provincial capital of St. John’s is the closest town to the sink site). Not just that, but it was a wireless operator in Newfoundland who first heard and transmitted the ship’s SOS calls.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Above all, what binds the Canadian province with the tragic event is the iceberg. From spring to early summer, hundreds of mammoth icebergs float down the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. So many of the 10,000-year-old slabs of ice drift past each year that the province’s coastline has been dubbed “Iceberg Alley”.

Most of these icebergs originate on the coast of Greenland, where chunks of ancient glaciers break off into the water. As they meander south with the current, many of the icebergs break up due to collisions with sea ice or shores, or else melt away slowly as the temperature rises during the voyage. Of the 15,000 to 30,000 icebergs that slip off of Greenland’s shores each year, only 500 to 1,000 make it as far as Iceberg Alley. The journey can take up to three years.

Gérald Tapp/Wikipedia

Iceberg Alley is a worldwide tourist destination, but even native Newfoundlanders like Mallory, Cliff and Alan are not immune to the mesmerizing sight of the otherworldly monoliths. By the time they arrive, the ancient blocks of ice have been carved into luminous sculptures by the forces of erosion. Each one is different. Pinnacles, pyramids, arches, domes, blue streaks: the variety of shapes and colors is astounding.

But above all, they are staggeringly massive. Icebergs floating through this region can be as tall as a 25-story building. And that’s just the portion above the surface: more than 90% of an iceberg’s mass is under the water. A typical Newfoundland iceberg weighs hundreds of thousands of tons.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

As Cliff steered further into the frigid waters, he was as careful as he could be to not to get too close to the giant towers of ice. Icebergs are not just enormous: they’re also extremely hard (much harder than the cubes your freezer makes).

An an experienced sailor, Cliff knew that a collision with an iceberg meant certain disaster. If one could take down the Titanic, one of the largest ships ever built, imagine what it could do to TheNorthern Swan.

Kim Hansen/Wikimedia

Thankfully, modern boat captains have some protections that didn’t exist in the Titanic era. After that disaster, an alliance of countries formed the International Ice Patrol to warn ships of large icebergs in the North Atlantic. This job is extraordinarily precise today thanks to advanced satellite technology.

The hitch is that satellite tracking is only used to detect icebergs larger than 500 square meters (5,400 square feet). For small vessels like The Northern Swan, however, it’s not the huge icebergs that present the most danger, but the smaller ones.

The smaller pieces are called “bergy bits,” which are the size of a small house, and “growlers,” which are the size of a grand piano. These smaller sized icebergs are harder for sailors to see with the naked eye; radar may also miss them as they bob up and down with the waves.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Despite the increasingly poor conditions, the crew decided to press on. They were confident in their collective experience. Plus, luck was on their side that day. So they agreed to do the four-mile run back to the shore to refuel and head back out for the afternoon.

With Alan now at the helm, The Northern Swan started sailing back toward land. As Alan navigated the treacherous waters, he noticed an approaching iceberg. It was far from the first iceberg they’d encountered that morning, but this one was different. Something wasn’t right.

Alan Russell/Facebook

At first, the crew thought it had to be a baby seal. But after Alan pulled out the binoculars to take a closer look, he reported that it definitely was not a seal: its movements and general appearance weren’t consistent.

The mystery was too much: they needed to get even closer to know for sure what kind of creature this was. Unfortunately, that also meant getting closer to the iceberg on which it was sitting.


This wasn’t a decision to enter into lightly. Even though the crew could see it in front of them as clear as day, the iceberg harbored unknown dangers.

As icebergs make their way south from the Arctic, melting and various forces of erosion shape them into a breathtaking variety of shapes and sizes. But these same qualities also render them alarmingly unpredictable. From a simple engineering standpoint, some are structurally unsound (sometimes profoundly so, as was the case with the mushroom-shaped one on which this critter was floating).

US Embassy Canada/Wikipedia

When icebergs finally roll into the relatively warm waters around Newfoundland, melting accelerates dramatically — and also unevenly, which makes them prone to unexpected movements, such as tipping or rolling over. Even relatively block-shaped icebergs can break apart without warning.

While the average is a leisurely 0.4 miles per hour, speed is another unpredictable factor. Size and shape figure into it, but so do winds, currents and waves.

The crew of The Northern Swan crew looked out at the rocky waters as they considered their next step. They knew a sudden lurch could be the end of them. But then they looked back to the iceberg and saw the birds circling above the defenseless animal. They had to act.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Inching the boat closer, they were finally able to identify what type of creature they this was. Not one of them expected what they discovered: it was a juvenile Arctic fox!

The Arctic fox primarily lives inland, away from the coasts. So what was this poor little fellow doing way out here in the middle of the sea, alone on an iceberg no less?

“It had probably got stuck out there looking for a meal,” Mallory later explained to “Cliff says he thinks he got out there to check out a bit of meat on the ice and it broke apart, sending him out to sea.”

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

It was clear to the incredulous crew that this shivering, piteous creature was far from his true habitat. An Arctic fox is as well-equipped as any mammal to survive in an extreme northern climate. They can withstand frigid temperatures as low as –58°F, thanks in part to their compact bodies. Their muzzles, legs and ears are short, which conserves heat by minimizing exposure to the frigid air.

To further insulate, the Arctic fox will curl up into a tight round mass, with its legs and head snuggled securely under its body. If conditions get too cold, its metabolism increases to provide warmth.

Rama/Wikimedia Commons

Above all, the Arctic fox survives due to its thick fur. It has the warmest pelt of any animal in the Arctic. Plus, their bushy tails provide extra insulation when curled up for warmth. Even the soles of their paws are furry (unique within in the canid family), which explains how they came to be the only land mammal native to Iceland: they walked there across the frozen sea during the last ice age.

With seemingly every possible evolutionary adaptation in his favor, why was this poor critter shivering in distress then? Because Arctic foxes are not designed to be wet. Water splashing up from the sea or melting off of his glacier perch had soaked his fur, leaving him perilously exposed to the elements.

Alan Russell/Facebook

As family and fellow crew members, Mallory, Cliff, and Alan made the decision together to attempt the rescue, despite the danger to themselves. They could not predict how the petrified animal would respond to them or even allow them to approach.

“He’s a wild animal and we didn’t know how he’d react,” Mallory later said, “but we knew we were his only chance for survival.”

One of their first concerns was that the fox would panic and jump in the icy water to escape. Arctic foxes are capable of swimming but avoid it all costs due to their reliance on warm, dry fur for survival. In his condition, they didn’t know if he’d have the strength to keep himself above water.

While contemplating their rescue plan, the crew suddenly noticed that the churning water had started to carry the iceberg further away. “The winds had also changed southwest, so if we hadn’t found him when we did, he would’ve only drifted farther out to sea.”

It was clear that they needed to make their move. Unfortunately, carrying out the operation safely would be even more challenging than they imagined.

Erik F. Brandsborg

It was a rough start to the rescue. Between the rocking water below and the approaching boat, the fox was beginning to show signs of severe stress. He started to pace in fear.

When the boat gently grazed the side of the ice, the fox tried in vain to escape. But he was trapped, further exacerbating his anxiety. Eventually, the animal just froze in fear, staring at the fishermen.


The longer the crew observed the animal, the more something became clear: even if he warmed to them, the poor little animal would be too weak to board the boat on his own volition. They had hoped for a gentle operation, but time was running out. They had to take a more aggressive tack.

“We had to break the ice he was on and get him with the dipnet. He fought and fought to get away until he literally couldn’t move anymore,” Mallory later explained. To their huge relief, the plan worked and the fox was deposited safely onto the boat. Or so they thought.

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Erik Hoffmann

The fox was so traumatized by the abrupt capture and transition to the boat that he promptly jumped overboard into the icy water. The crew’s number one fear was now realized.

The terrified creature circled the boat as Alan tried repeatedly to grab ahold of him. The team grew more and more scared for the animal’s life as it expended all of its energy paddling desperately through the frigid sea. Thankfully, Alan was finally able to get a secure enough grip to lift the fox out of the water and safely on board. This time, it was for good.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

The little Arctic fox was securely on board The Northern Swan, but he was still in dire danger. He cowered away from them into a corner, shivering violently from the cold. The bitter wind seemed to get worse by the minute. The crew knew that the animal was in danger of freezing to death and began to worry aloud if they’d bungled the rescue.

Alan and Cliff gathered all of the towels and other makeshift covers that they could find. They approached the fox gingerly, still scared that he might lash out violently in fear. They had reason for concern about his defensive skills. The Arctic fox has many predators, including golden eagles, polar bears, wolverines, red foxes, wolves, and grizzly bears. This fellow knew how to protect himself.

The crew sailed as fast as they could but the journey back to shore felt ten times longer than normal. Every crashing wave startled the petrified animal, who had likely never experienced the sensation of being on water.

Mallory offered him chips, crackers, and anything else she could find in the galley, but he wouldn’t eat. They did not know if he would make it back to land alive.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

At long last, they reached their destination: the coastal port of Pinsent’s Arm. On the way there, Mallory had come up with a plan: collect all the sawdust they could to make a bed for their sickly passenger. She knew the absorbent material would help him dry off quicker and also provide a soft cushion for his weary body.

The whole crew pitched in and soon, they’d fashioned a comfy nest for the fox inside a plastic bin they had on board. Mallory placed the makeshift bed in the one patch of sun she could find and encouraged the animal to settle into it. To everyone’s huge relief, he took to it immediately and fell fast asleep.

Mallory Harrigan/Instagram

It was reassuring to see the little fox in surroundings somewhat closer to his natural habitat. In addition to their thick fur and other physiological adaptations, Arctic foxes stay warm by avoiding exposure to the elements. They live in burrows or dens to protect themselves. In extreme weather, they may even tunnel into the snow for shelter.

This poor creature had none of those options out on that iceberg. Mallory knew that this plastic bin full of sawdust was a far cry from his cozy den, wherever that may be, but it was worlds better than what he’d had to endure out there on the frigid sea.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

From Pinsent’s Arm, it was just a short cruise back to William’s Harbour. With the fox now sleeping peacefully, they took this leg of the journey slowly to avoid any disturbing bumps. Mallory sat by his temporary nest, watching his fur dry and happy to see him out of distress.

As the sawdust gradually soaked the icy moisture from his pelt, Mallory was surprised to see something. His fur, which had appeared to be a murky brown, was actually white. The dryer he got, the lighter it became.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Of course, Arctic foxes do have beautiful white coats — in the wintertime, when the ground is covered with ice and snow. When the snow melts with the change of season, the fox’s coat changes to a brownish-grey to blend in with the bare rocks and earth.

This was June, so his fur should have turned brown long before. When she pointed this out to her crewmates, they realized what it meant: the little fox had been trapped on that floating slab of ice for a very long time — perhaps weeks. It was a heartbreaking thought.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

The trip back to William’s Harbour was only half an hour, and the fox was still sleeping when The Northern Swan arrived. To the crew’s amazement (and delight), he kept on sleeping for hours!

At this point, the three fishermen realized how exhausted they were, too. It hadn’t been a long fishing day, but the stressful rescue mission had been draining. They took advantage of this calm moment to rest.

When the fox finally awoke, they were thrilled to see how much his demeanor had changed. He was still a tad nervous, of course, but remarkably calm overall.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

With the fox looking so much better, they decided to try feeding him again. The crackers hadn’t been a hit, but they knew that Arctic foxes are omnivores and felt optimistic they could find something he’d like. First, Cliff dug into their own haul and offered him some fresh fish. Surprisingly, he rejected that too.

So Mallory headed back to the galley and grabbed the only other thing they had on board: Vienna sausages. He gobbled them up in two seconds flat!

Jonathen Pie

With his body warmed and his belly full, the little animal was finally resembling the Arctic foxes they’d seen observed in the past: soft, fluffy, and downright cute!

As he perked up, the crew could also see a glimmer of the playfulness for which Arctic foxes are known. Their adorable appearance and mischievous personality are so charming that they’re one of the most popular animals for travelers to encounter and photograph.


Mallory, Cliff and Alan were just as captivated by his cuteness as any tourist. It would have been fun to keep him around longer, but they didn’t lose sight of their mission: to heal this wild animal so he could return to the wild. And now, the time had come.

During the fox’s long nap, the crew had a chance to discuss the next step; by putting their heads together, they figured out an ideal place for him to transition back to the wilderness. A small island in William’s Harbour had once been used to house sled dogs and there were still a few wooden kennels scattered there. It was the perfect stepping stone.


When they got to the sled dog island, the crew split up: two went to look for a good kennel and one stayed behind with the fox. In a few minutes, the scouts returned to the boat with good news: they’d found a solid kennel in a nice area, with “lots of little critters and stuff” and freshwater ponds so that he would have food and water during his stay there.

They carried him onto the island and gently set him near the kennel. The little fox popped into the dog house straight away — this was a great sign that he was feeling at least reasonably at home. He soon peeked his head out and looked around, taking in the larger environment.


The crew kept a respectful distance while still remaining close enough to observe him. They weren’t quite ready yet to leave their sweet charge. Plus, they hoped for one more sign that he was healthy and ready to take the next steps on his own.

A short time later, they got the confirmation they needed. The fox confidently strolled out of his kennel, shook himself off, and dashed away to explore his new home.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Mallory, Cliff, and Alan missed most of that fishing day, but they didn’t lament their decision to rescue the Arctic fox for one minute. What’d they given as well as gained that day was far more valuable than a partial haul. There were more fishing days in the season.

Mallory was excited to share the story with her friends and neighbors. She posted a photo on Instagram of the moment they’d first seen the fox on the iceberg. Her comment read: “Managed to nurse this little baby back to health the other day with [Cliff and Alan]”.

Mallory Harrigan/Facebook

Mallory and Cliff’s hometown of William’s Harbour has a population of just 20 people (and that’s during the summer!) While Mallory figured that the amazing tale would be the talk of their little town, she never imagined it would spread beyond that.

But the thrilling story traveled quickly via social media, and the glowing feedback started pouring in. The saga clearly hit a nerve with people, many of whom eagerly shared their admiration and gratitude for the selflessness of the fishermen that day. Eventually, the news media picked it up too and Mallory found herself being interviewed by People magazine!

The Northern Swan crew takes it all with a grain of salt, though. As Mallory put it: “The real hero here was the Vienna sausages.”

One quick postscript to this joyful tale: the little fox stayed nearby! Mallory reports that they “still see him from time to time, running around the island chasing small animals”.

A truly happy ending for all.