Chris Colfer Saves Beached Stingray

07/17/2012 at 02:30 PM EDT

Chris Colfer Saves Stingray
Chris Colfer and a beached stingray
Courtesy Chris Colfer. Inset: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Chris Colfer to the rescue!

When the Glee star came upon a beached stingray during his morning run in Pismo Beach, Calif., this weekend, he did what came naturally. First, he screamed, then he reached out to help.

"I thought it was dead at first," he tells PEOPLE. "I see it start breathing and moving, and I'm freaking out. I immediately start screaming, 'Help, somebody help! There's a beached stingray!'"

Though he feared that the barbed fish might try to hurt him, Colfer, who was alone on the deserted beach, jumped into action and cleverly fashioned seaweed into makeshift gloves in order to move the stingray off the sand.

"I immediately wrapped my hands in seaweed and began flipping him like a pancake back into the water," he says. "And eventually he got to a deep enough part of the beach where he swam away – so I saved a stingray. So that was rewarding."

Colfer, who shared a photo of the fish on Twitter that day, knew he had to do something to help the stranded creature. "I was the only one on the beach," he says. "Only one besides seagulls – and they were not helpful."

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