‘It’s day-to-day’: Efforts continue to save orphaned orca calf off Vancouver Island

Click to play video: 'Uncertain fate for young orca stranded on Vancouver Island'
Uncertain fate for young orca stranded on Vancouver Island
It's a race against time to save an orphaned baby orca stranded near Zeballos. The young whale's mother died after becoming beached by low tide. Josh McInnes with UBC's Marine Mammal Research Unit discusses efforts to save the young whale from the same fate as its mother. – Mar 29, 2024

The orphaned orca calf is still in the area where its mother died last Saturday, and rescuers are still trying to reunite it with its pod.

The whale’s mother, who was also pregnant at the time, died after hunting a seal and becoming trapped in shallow water near the Vancouver Island community of Zeballos.

“Currently, you know, the young orca’s by itself right now,” Josh McInnes, an orca expert with UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit told Global News on Friday.

“The primary goal is to actually try to lure the animal out of the lagoon by using sounds or vocalizations from the type of killer whale that this animal’s from.”

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McInnes said it has not been successful so far because of the whale’s location.

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He said rescue efforts are a day-to-day operation at the moment, as the calf is not old enough to hunt on its own.

“They really haven’t developed the blubber stores to be able to fast, so we’re talking about days to like a week or two that this calf potentially has,” McInnes added.

It is unclear if the whale’s pod will accept the calf if it is able to be reunited, but MacInnis said the rescuers are hopeful.

“We’ve never really had a situation like this with a mammal-eating transient killer whale before,” he said.

“So, this is unique.”

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