Ron Yaschuk found the whale while walking his dog on Rainbow Haven Beach, about 15 kilometres east of Dartmouth.
"We're walking along and I could see something off in the distance," Yaschuk told BuzzFeed Canada. "I approach it and I see it's a whale."
It's unclear how long the 2,000-kilogram pilot whale had been on the sand, but it was still moving its tail and breathing through its blowhole, so Yaschuk hoped it wasn't too late.
After calling 911 to alert the authorities, Yaschuk got in touch with his son, who showed up with two others.