June 12th, 2024

First attempt to catch orphaned orca calf in B.C. lagoon is unsuccessful

By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press on April 12, 2024.

An orphaned two-year-old female orca calf continues to live and swim in a lagoon near Zeballos, B.C., on Thursday, April 11, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

ZEBALLOS, B.C. – An orphaned killer whale stranded in a remote Vancouver Island lagoon is proving difficult for rescuers to catch.

An official at the site says the capture operation is in the “demobilization stage” today after an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the two-year-old orca that began before dawn.

Ehattesaht First Nation Chief Simon John says they plan to try again in a couple of days, saying rescuers were “standing down.”

The First Nation said earlier that the rescue was launched at 5 a.m. because of favourable weather conditions.

The rescue plan involves trying to corral the female calf into a shallow part of the three-kilometre lagoon, using boats, divers and a net, before she would be placed in a large fabric sling and hoisted onto a transport vehicle.

The two-year-old calf has been alone in Little Espinosa Inlet for about three weeks after its pregnant mother was beached at low tide and died on March 23.

The pair got into the lagoon by swimming through a narrow and fast-moving channel connecting it to the ocean.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2024.

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