April 17th, 2024

Stranded orca was pregnant, while efforts to save her other calf turns on rising tide

By The Canadian Press on March 26, 2024.

A dead killer whale and its calf are shown in a lagoon near Zeballos, B.C., in a handout photo. A marine scientist says a necropsy performed on female killer whale that died after being stranded in a lagoon with its two-year-old orca calf was pregnant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jared Towers, Bay Cetology **MANDATORY CREDIT**

ZEBALLOS, B.C. – A necropsy on the killer whale that died after being stranded off northern Vancouver Island shows she was pregnant with another calf.

Marine scientist Jared Towers watched the necropsy on the animal and says the 15-year-old Bigg’s killer whale was expecting another calf when she became trapped in shallow waters near the community of Zeballos.

Towers, who’s with the research group Bay Cetology, says scientists, area First Nations volunteers and others are now focusing their efforts on coaxing the killer whale’s two-year-old calf out of the lagoon, but the timing of the tidal waters only offers a daily opportunity of about 30 minutes for the animal to swim out of the lagoon.

He says the young whale, which has been in the area since Saturday, has so far resisted their efforts to leave the lagoon, which included them using speakers sending out audio of whale calls.

Towers says the calf appears healthy and is making regular vocal calls, while it spends much of its time in the deepest part of the lagoon, estimated at about 30 metres.

The Fisheries Department’s marine mammal rescue experts have said the goal is to convince the calf to leave the lagoon in the hope that it can reconnect with other members of its family.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2024.

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