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Site preparations underway as B.C. rescuers prep for orphan orca lift

Series of dry runs expected ahead of the planned rescue of stranded calf in Vancouver Island lagoon
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A team of about two dozen people are preparing the planned landing area for the complex rescue effort to save a female killer whale calf stranded in a remote tidal lagoon off northwest Vancouver Island. An orphaned two-year-old female orca calf continues to live and swim in a lagoon near Zeballos, B.C., on Thursday, April 11, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A team of about two dozen people is preparing the planned landing area for the complex rescue of an orphaned killer whale calf trapped in a remote tidal lagoon off northwest Vancouver Island.

Veterinarians, whale response experts, First Nations members and logistics experts are expected to conduct a series of dry runs ahead of the planned rescue, which could occur within days.

The federal Fisheries Department says in a statement many people are working tirelessly to develop and put finishing touches on the rescue of the two-year-old female calf, which has been alone in the lagoon for more than two weeks after its pregnant mother became beached at low tide and died.

It says the calf’s health will be a key consideration during the capture, transport and release into the ocean.

The department previously discussed initially holding the young orca in an ocean net pen until freeing it when members of its mother’s family were nearby, but now it says she will be released directly into open water where she is most likely to encounter the pod.

The department says it is organizing logistics with the Ehattesaht First Nation for the whale’s safe capture, transport in a large fabric sling, then release to the ocean.

The department has been involved in previous rescue attempts for other whales and it says that will help with planning, although every situation is unique.

READ ALSO: Zeballos rallies around orphaned orca, as time ticks away

READ ALSO: Chief says B.C. orphan orca calf rescue attempt is 4 or 5 days away





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