False killer whale ‘Chester’ may have died from bacterial infection: preliminary necropsy report

False Killer Whale dies at Vancouver Aquarium
The False Killer Whale named “Chester” that was rescued from a beach near Tofino in 2014 has died. Jennifer Palma reports.

A bacterial infection may have been what killed Chester, the false killer whale who lived at the Vancouver Aquarium.

That’s according to a preliminary necropsy report.

“The disease is called erysipelas in cetaceans,” Vancouver Aquarium head veterinarian Martin Haulena said in an email. “This is the first case at the Vancouver Aquarium to our knowledge.”

READ MORE: Chester the false killer whale dies at the Vancouver Aquarium

He said the infection has killed cetaceans both in the wild and in the care of humans.

Chester died last Friday; the whale was rescued from a beach near Tofino three years ago.

WATCH: Chester the false killer whale enjoys the rain

Haulena said that as a result, “Helen” the Pacific white-sided dolphin – and the last cetacean at the aquarium – is currently taking medication.

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“Although she is showing no signs of the disease, Helen is being treated with antibiotics as a preventative measure,” Haulena said.

READ MORE: Vancouver Park Board will ‘leave cetaceans to die a death on the beach’: Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium said even though dolphins are social species, decisions about Helen’s future are complicated, and “our options are limited at this time because of Park Board legislation and action before the courts.”

WATCH: Vancouver Aquarium launches lawsuit against Park Board

Vancouver Aquarium launches lawsuit against Park Board
Vancouver Aquarium launches lawsuit against Park Board

The issue of captivity at the aquarium has been a hot-button issue in recent years.

In May, the Vancouver Park Board approved a new bylaw banning the Vancouver Aquarium from bringing any new cetaceans to its Stanley Park facility.

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READ MORE: Vancouver Park Board approves ban on captivity of new sea mammals at aquarium

Back in June, Daisy the harbour porpoise — another rescue animal — also passed away.

The last two beluga whales living at the aquarium died last year.

An investigation into the deaths of Qila and her mother Aurora found that they died due to an “unknown toxin.”

  • With files from Simon Little