A much-loved statue of a short-in-stature sailor – believed to have been stolen in a university prank – has been returned to his home.

One of Nova Scotia’s most photographed fishermen, Shorty has been a popular attraction in picturesque Peggy’s Cove since he took up residence there last summer.

Peter Richardson, owner of Peggy's Cove Lobsters, bought the beloved wood carving for $1,000 to draw customers to his lobster roll food truck.

Richardson was devastated when the pipe-smoking, sou’wester- wearing sailor vanished last week.

But Saturday saw a group of Dalhousie University students contact Richardson saying they had ‘rescued’ Shorty from a house, after seeing a CTV report that he was missing.

“We just wanted to ensure that Shorty could go back to his rightful owners and to Peggy’s Cove for all the tourists,” one of the students told CTV Atlantic.

“We think it was a prank gone wrong,” another added.

Richardson travelled to Halifax on Saturday night to collect Shorty.

He said the students told him they had heard a rumour that a group of guys had taken the carving, so they went to the men's house while they were away and removed it.

Steps have been taken to secure Shorty and plans are underway to have a Mrs. Shorty carved to keep him company.

“I just got off the phone with the girl that carved Shorty and I was commissioning her to carve a Mrs. Shorty, so when Shorty came back, he would have somebody to watch, keep an eye on him so he wouldn't wander off,” Richardson said.

Richardson had posted an appeal for Shorty’s return on Facebook and even offered a $200 reward.

--- With files from The Canadian Press