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‘We’re not going to stop’: Team to rethink next steps for B.C. orca whale rescue

Click to play video: '1st attempt at orphaned orca rescue operation fails'
1st attempt at orphaned orca rescue operation fails
An attempt to rescue a stranded orca near Zeballos, B.C. on Vancouver Island failed Friday after the animal evaded capture. The young animal was stranded in an inlet when its mother died on a sandbar on March 23. Kylie Stanton has the latest. – Apr 12, 2024

A team of officials working to save a stranded orca calf off the coast of Vancouver Island say they are not going to give up after the first rescue attempt failed on Friday.

Early Friday morning, members of the Ehattesaht First Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Vancouver Aquarium were back at the lagoon near Zeballos B.C., ready to get to work.

The plan was to get the two-year-old Biggs Killer Whale, known as Kwiisahi?is, or Brave Little Hunter, into a large fabric sling and onto a transport vehicle designed to carry her to open water.

But the attempt on Friday was unsuccessful.

“We were able to get her real close, but she, she’s catching on to us, so it’s likely our current approach is not going to work,” Paul Cottrell with Fisheries and Oceans Canada said.

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Click to play video: 'Dramatic rescue of stranded B.C. orphaned orca calf considered: ‘Anything’s on the table’'
Dramatic rescue of stranded B.C. orphaned orca calf considered: ‘Anything’s on the table’

The whale has been stuck in the shallows since March 23 after she and her mother swam through a narrow channel connecting it to the ocean.

When the tide went out, it left her mother who was pregnant, beached on the rocks. She did not survive.

Since then, the rescue team has focused its efforts on coaxing the calf out to sea, playing audio of orca calls and also trying to herd the whale with boats while using metal pipes that create a loud noise when struck underwater.

The capture and release was the last resort, and now they have no choice but to come up with something else.

So we’re going to be planning the next couple of days to take that next step to look at different options,” Cottrell said.

Officials said the calf does appear to be very active and healthy and as long as she’s not giving up, neither will those trying to help her.

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We’re not going to stop,” Cottrell said. “We’re going to keep going. We’re optimistic we can make this work.”

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