How far would you go to save a seagull?

For a Halifax man, the sight of a distressed bird entangled in a fishing line was enough for him to strip down to his underwear and leap into the Atlantic Ocean.

Erik Nolan was working at a restaurant in the Halifax Harbour on Thursday when a co-worker told him about a crowd nearby. Onlookers gathered around to watch a juvenile bird frantically flap its wings in the water.

Within moments of arriving at the scene, Nolan turned to a young woman beside him and asked her to “watch my stuff.”

“And I look beside me and he has all his clothes off except his boxers, and he’s jumping into the water,” recalled Kirby Ross, who quickly pulled out her phone and started recording.

In an interview with CTV Atlantic, Nolan said he felt a strong compulsion to do something.

“I told myself I’m willing to get into that water, so why not just save that bird,” he said.

Nolan has experience as an open water diver and used a life preserver to swim over to the seagull. He waded slowly and watched to make sure the bird wasn’t aggressive.

That’s when he noticed the extent of the entanglement.

“There was a hook that had pierced its lower foot twice, and then there was another hook in its wing and the line was all wrapped around its wing,” he said.

Nolan carefully unwound the line and freed the bird from the hooks. Once it was free, he began to swim back to shore, which is when he shared a quiet moment with the seagull.

“It kind of craned its head toward me and kind of stared me in the eye the whole way back. It was kind of a weird moment.”

The heroic rescue (or unnecessary swim, depending on your opinion of seagulls) has since been viewed more than 10,000 times online after Ross posted her video to Facebook and YouTube.

Nolan said he’s happy he could make a difference.

“It made me feel good that it was alive and that I didn’t just jump into the harbour to save a dead bird.”

With files from CTV Atlantic