Orca calf is surfacing regularly in B.C. lagoon

Click to play video: 'AI being used in effort to reunite orphaned orca calf with pod'
AI being used in effort to reunite orphaned orca calf with pod
Rescuers are turning to an AI tool to help reunite an orphaned orca calf with its pod. A whale research group is offering to help find the two-year-old orca's relatives after it was stranded in a lagoon near Zeballos – Apr 1, 2024

A stranded killer whale calf is showing signs of regular activity as it breaches every seven to 10 minutes in a lagoon near the northern Vancouver Island village of Zeballos.

The two year-old orca has been alone in the lagoon near Little Espinosa Inlet since March 23 when its mother became trapped by the low tide and died on the rocky beach.

The orca calf is rising out of the water from a mid-section of the lagoon but it is staying clear of the narrow exit area that leads to the open ocean, which is also where its mother died.

Efforts by members of the area’s Ehattesaht First Nation, Fisheries Department marine mammal scientists and others to coax the orca calf through the narrow channel area, using boats, directional lines and whale calls, have not been successful so far.

Click to play video: 'Uncertain fate for young orca stranded on Vancouver Island'
Uncertain fate for young orca stranded on Vancouver Island

The daily low tide at the lagoon reveals the difficult channel area where the orca calf must pass through, but also shows a healthy shoreline that is home to starfish, oysters, mussels and clams.

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Cedar boughs placed by the First Nations residents hang from the bridge where the young orca must pass and a bouquet of flowers rests at the roadside where people are watching the situation unfold.

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The Fisheries Department says it has identified two of the calf’s family pods after a whale researcher examined photographs from a whale watching group who spotted the transient killer whales in Barkley Sound, B.C., on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024.

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