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‘Really happy’: Video captures B.C. orca calf eating first meal in 27 days

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Island orphaned orca seen eating for first time'
Vancouver Island orphaned orca seen eating for first time
A new development has effectively put the Vancouver Island whale rescue on hold - for now. Global's Cassidy Mosconi reports from Zeballos – Apr 19, 2024

It’s the good news many have been hoping for — at least until a successful rescue can be accomplished.

kʷiisaḥiʔis or Brave Little Hunter had a big meal on Thursday evening.

Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ehattesaht First Nation have been trying to supplement the food source for the orphaned and stranded orca whale calf since it became trapped in the lagoon near Zeballos B.C.

“Luckily yesterday, late evening, it was actually successful,” Paul Cottrell with the department told Global News.

“And seeing that now gives us some options, gives us time. So that’s a win. And given that she was showing subtle changes in body condition, it’s really important that she’s getting those nutrients. So we’re really happy that this is happening.”

Cottrell said this gives the team of rescuers more time to formulate a rescue plan for the two-year-old orca.

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Click to play video: 'Ehattesaht First Nation brings wisdom to orca rescue'
Ehattesaht First Nation brings wisdom to orca rescue

The young whale ventured into the lagoon off northwest Vancouver Island with her mother last month.

The pregnant mother whale became stranded on a rocky beach at low tide and died. Rescuers have been trying to get the calf to leave the lagoon, 450 kilometres northwest of Victoria, so it can reunite with its pod.

Cottrell said kʷiisaḥiʔis was starting to show signs of changes in body condition so it’s so important she ate about 40 pounds of seal meat.

“I think in terms of what we were seeing the last few days, it definitely looked like there was a subtle change,” he said.

“So that was very concerning. And we have been trying to supplement seal meat for the diet. But the animal hasn’t taken any in the previous (days) that we know of. So this was verification that the animal is actively eating seal, which is exactly what it should be.”

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The Ehattesaht First Nation has now started a GoFundMe to cover some of the costs of housing and feeding everyone in their small community who is there to help the calf.

“The team is now working to see how we can best succeed with reuniting her with her family, given we have these other assets and things that we can consider,” Cottrell said.

He added that they could now try leading the orca out of the lagoon by using seal meat as bait but they are keeping all the other options open.

“We’re doing it as a team approach to come up with these options, the safest way for the whale, the safest way for the rescuers as well,” Cottrell said.

For now, at least officials know kʷiisaḥiʔis had her first official meal in 27 days.

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Her story has sparked interest worldwide, and on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he thinks everyone is following kʷiisaḥiʔis’ story.

“It’s heartbreaking and we’re all worried so I have assured the DFO has reached out to the community and we are going to continue to engage with them,” he said.

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