UPDATE: Stranded false killer whale calf shows signs of improvement
A rare whale that was rescued by staff at the Vancouver Aquarium in July is making progress.
The false killer whale calf named Chester was spotted in distress at North Chesterman beach, just outside of Tofino, and transported back to Vancouver for emergency care.
Chester arrived in critical condition and had several lacerations and wounds on his body, likely from stranding and getting caught up on the rocks.
He has been receiving treatment, and veterinarians at the aquarium had to use a specially designed floating sling to support his weight in the water.
Veterinarian fellow Justin Rosenberg with the Vancouver Aquarium told Global News Chester is now swimming on his own and requires only one person, instead of two, to be with him in the pool.
He is starting to gain some weight, but is not out of the woods yet.
The aquarium says Chester is curious about his environment, exploring each new person who joins him in his pool.
He is responding to tactile touch, showing off his underside for daily belly rubs.
Chester is still being tube fed every few hours. But the goal is to move him onto a fish diet in the near future as his teeth have now come in.
It is costing the aquarium $400 a day to feed Chester, and they are welcoming donations.
It is estimated Chester was four to six weeks old when he was found.
Historically, stranded cetaceans have had a low chance of survival, but aquarium staff are cautiously optimistic about his recovery.
False killer whales are seldom seen along the B.C coast and are not related to the well-known killer whale, or orca, species.
It is an open ocean species found in the tropics in all oceans of the world.