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DFO trying to return young whale to pod after beached mother died on Vancouver Island

Whale beached on Saturday, March 23
Community members tried to save a beached mother orca near the village of Zeballos on Vancouver Island on Saturday, March 24, 2024. (Screenshot/Tracy Smith/Facebook)

DFO staff are attempting to entice a young killer whale to rejoin its pod, after the whale’s mother died on Saturday as a result of getting stranded near Zeballos.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans first received a call about a stranded killer whale on Saturday, March 23. The call also reported that a younger whale was still swimming in a lagoon nearby. With the help of Nuchatlaht and Ehattesaht First Nations, who are trained in marine mammal response, work was done to keep the stranded killer whale cool and to refloat her. However, the stranded whale died as a result of the stranding.

According to a post on a local Zeballos Facebook page, a ceremony was performed for the whale.

DFO personnel and local volunteers were on site on Monday to help move the younger whale back into the open water to rejoin the pod.

“This is a highly complex operation, and time is of the essence,” a release from DFO says. “The area is remote with sparse connectivity. DFO staff on site are currently focused on doing everything possible to reunite the young whale with its pod.”

An update from DFO said that a necropsy was being performed on March 25, but also that any definitive results may take months to be completed.

“DFO would like to acknowledge the Nuchatlaht and Ehattseaht First Nations for their tremendous efforts to sustain and rescue the whales and for their ongoing collaboration in this incident,” the release says.

More information on this story will be made available later in the week.

The Department asks the public to call the Fisheries and Ocean’s Observe, Record, Report/ Marine Mammal Incident Hotline at 1-800-465-4336, to report occurrences of whales being harassed or disturbed, and instances of collision with whales or whale entanglements. Reporting all marine mammal incidents to the DFO Marine Mammal Response Hotline ensures responses are initiated quickly and safely where possible. Mariners who are unable to reach the incident reporting hotline can call the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) Marine Mammal Desk at 1-833-339-1020.

RELATED: Mother orca dies after becoming beached on northern Vancouver Island

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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