May 28th, 2024

Orca pod spotted in vicinity of orphan B.C. killer whale, but no evidence of family

By The Canadian Press on May 7, 2024.

A reported sighting of an orca pod off Vancouver Island near where an orphan killer whale is spending her time after escaping from a lagoon has an expert expressing caution and downplaying a possible family reunion. A two-year-old female orca calf, named kwiisahi?is, or Brave Little Hunter, by the Ehattesaht First Nation, is spotted at the Little Espinosa Inlet near Zeballos, B.C., Friday, April 19, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

ZEBALLOS, B.C. – A reported sighting of an orca pod off Vancouver Island near where an orphan killer whale is spending her time after escaping from a lagoon has an expert expressing caution and downplaying a possible family reunion.

A confirmed sighting of a pod of nine orcas was reported Monday near Kyuquot Sound, about 80 kilometres southeast of Zeballos, near the inlet where the two-year-old calf has been seen.

This is the first official report of orcas near the female calf since late March, when a pod of her relatives among the Bigg’s killer whales was spotted south of Ucluelet.

Marine scientist Jarod Towers says the pod has not yet been identified as possible family members of the orphan killer whale calf and the distance is too far for her calls to be heard.

The calf named kwiisahi?is had been trapped since March in a tidal lagoon near Zeballos, located more than 450 kilometres northwest of Victoria, after her pregnant mother became stranded on a rocky beach and died.

The orphan calf eluded several rescue attempts then swam out on her own to an open inlet last month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2024.

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