April 17th, 2024

Time of essence amid efforts to reunite orphaned B.C. orca calf with its pod

By The Canadian Press on March 25, 2024.

Intense efforts are underway to reunite an orca calf with its family pod after its mother was stranded and died in a tidal lagoon near the remote northern Vancouver Island village of Zeballos. A group of Bigg's killer whales swims together as seen from a Pacific Whale Watch Association vessel on May 4, 2022, near Whidbey Island in Washington state. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ted S. Warren

ZEBALLOS, B.C. – Intense efforts are underway to reunite an orca calf with its family pod after its mother was stranded and died in a tidal lagoon near the remote northern Vancouver Island village of Zeballos.

The Fisheries Department says in a statement that a highly complex operation is underway to entice the juvenile whale in the lagoon to rejoin its pod, but “time is of the essence.”

Its mother died Saturday and the calf stayed nearby, but the department says the whale needs to make its way to the open ocean to find its family pod.

Marine mammal rescue officials in the department, area First Nations leaders, scientists and volunteers are all in the area to help save the calf, which is about two years old.

The Marine Education & Research Society said in a social media post that the dead animal has been identified as a 15-year-old Bigg’s killer whale, given the designation of T109A3, and she had a calf in 2022.

Members of the Zeballos-area Ehattesaht First Nation, who tried to save the stranded orca on the weekend, were out in boats on the ocean Monday searching for the calf’s pod.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2024.

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