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Mother orca dies after becoming beached on northern Vancouver Island

Community members attempted to save the whale, but couldn’t get her back in the water in time
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)

A mother orca became beached and died on northern Vancouver Island on Saturday (March 23), despite the rescue efforts of local community members.

The orca was found on Saturday morning near the village of Zeballos and Ehattesaht First Nation, in a shallow ocean inlet. She had very likely entered the area during high tide while hunting for food and become stuck when the waters dropped, the Marine Education and Research Society said in a post to social media.

Members of the Ehattesaht told local newspaper Ha-Shilth-Sa that the mother orca had a dead seal in her mouth when they arrived to try and save her.

Community members used buckets of water to soak towels and keep the mother wet while they attempted to turn her back onto her stomach, but they weren’t able to do so in time. She died while her calf swam in the waters nearby.

The Marine Education and Research Society said it is possible the orca had something wrong with her health, which contributed to her becoming stranded. It said the survival of her calf will depend on a number of factors, including their age and the family structure of the pod they were with. The society said it is possible the young orca has other family members nearby.

Members of the Ehattesaht posted videos to social media in the aftermath of the orca’s death of them singing songs to honour her life and passing.

Black Press Media reached out to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada for further information, but did not hear back as of publication.

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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