Plan to lift B.C. orca calf out of remote lagoon still in the works


The Department Of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is still planning to lift a stranded orca calf out of Little Espinosa Inlet near Zeballos.

The calf named kʷiisaḥiʔis, or Brave Little Hunter, has been stranded in the inlet for two and a half weeks after its mother died while trapped on high ground on March 23.

The DFO says the plan is to try to get the calf into a sling and then move it out into more open water closer to where it might be able to rejoin its pod, although it isn’t sure when that will happen.

When the rescue mission continues, rescuers hope to use large seine nets to try to move the orca toward a sling.

On Wednesday, the nets were being measured and inspected so they are ready to go when the rescue takes place.

“There’s been a lot of planning, and there’s still more planning going on,” Chief Simon John of Ehattesaht First Nation said. “We’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet where we can actually help the whale, or kʷiisaḥiʔis, out of the lagoon.”

For the last several weeks, several attempts to draw or push her out through a narrow opening under this bridge have been unsuccessful.

John says the new plan still involves herding the orca into a sling, then moving it, possibly by truck, to a point where it will be transferred to a boat before being taken to a net pen of sorts until it can be reunited with its family.

“Time is getting shorter, and we’re hopeful that it’s within the next week. This is probably, actually the most dangerous part of the whole process is capturing the whale and putting it back into its own environment,” he explained.

The orca was last seen Wednesday morning, and officials think she’s still pretty healthy.

Rescuers aren’t sure how easy it will be to get kʷiisaḥiʔis into the sling, adding she might have to be tranquilized.

“I think that will be decided how active it actually is, is it calm, and if it is needed it might happen,” John said.

When the rescue plan unfolds, RCMP will close the one road in and out of the area along the water to traffic to avoid crowds coming to watch.

Chief John says the rescue could take several hours to complete.


Mackenzie Read

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!