Low tide pauses efforts to save B.C. orca while rescuers plan next steps

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The dead orca is pictured on the right, while a calf swims nearby on the left on March 23.

Low tide kept rescuers trying to save an orphaned whale calf stranded near a remote British Columbia community off the waters on Saturday, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada says officials are re-evaluating techniques that have been used so far while deciding what’s next.

An email from departmental Spokeswoman Leri Davies says the most promising tool used so far to coax the young animal out of a lagoon off Vancouver Island appears to be Oikomi metal pipes from a line of vessels being used as a “sound wall.”

The long metal pipes are partially lowered into the water and struck with hammers to create noise and direct the whale toward a narrow exit point, across a shallow sandbar and back to open ocean.

Rescuers have said the whale has come close to leaving the lagoon but has been reluctant to pass over the sandbar where its mother got stranded and died last week.

Other methods that have been used so far include recorded killer whale calls, specialized directional guide lines and the pounding of Indigenous drum beats.

Davies says the pipes are widely used to deter marine mammals away from oil spills.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2024

The Canadian Press

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