Rescued Pseudorca clings to life, shows signs of progress

Typical for a 2.5-month-old baby, Chester is teething and likes his gums rubbed. But Chester is no typical baby.

Chester is six feet long. The baby ‘false killer whale’ rescued from the surf at Chesterman Beach was clinging determinedly to life at press time, despite big odds – and the fact that there’s not a record of a Pseudorca infant surviving a stranding.

He has a great attitude, said his chief caregiver.

“I’m super pleased that he’s still fighting along with us, and incredibly proud of the team that brought him this far,” said Dr.

Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The orphaned cetacean hasn’t officially been named, but some around the aquarium have called him Chester, short for Chesterman Beach, the Tofino surf site where he was found, then cradled by rescuers in a beach towel sling for hours until staffers from the aquarium could transport him to Vancouver.

Others have tried to rescue beached Pseudorca calves without success – one off the Queensland coast of Australia, another in the Maldives.

There has been limited success in hand-raising the rare species of the Dolphin family in places like Hawaii, where a pod of 150 is considered endangered.

“I don’t think anyone’s been able to raise a stranded calf before,” said Haulena. “I’m superrooting for him. I’d love to see him (survive.)”

Little Chester is showing alertness.

“He continues to show increased interest in his surroundings. He’s able to float a little better out of his sling, his eyes are open and he’s soliciting contact,” Haulena said.

At this point, “Chester” as he has been casually nicknamed by some, enjoys teeth and gum rubs (his teeth are breaking through), and he plays with fish when it’s offered to him.

He has gained some weight – good, considering the dehydrated condition he was in, Haulena said.

“On the down side, it’s what we’d expect for a stranded cetacean. He can’t swim on his own – he’s extremely weak, he sinks and is unable to get to the surface,” he said.

“We do know that when they strand, it can take many weeks for them to swim on their own,” Haulena said.

“He’s still here and the fact that we’re still working with him is huge,” Haulena said.

The six-foot-long baby’s respirations have improved and his “listing” has decreased, although the staff at the aquarium were worried about pneumonia. “He’s still in very poor shape and still requires a long road ahead,” Haulena said.

Staff still don’t know what separated the unweaned calf from his cetacean mother – could have been predators, another member of the pod getting aggressive, weather, currents, boats or noise, Haulena said.

There’s much curiosity about little Chester around the world amongst those who study marine mammals, Haulena said.

“A lot of people around the world are quite worried about him … students are here, all learning away. There’s so much that can be gained from doing a rescue like this, beyond helping the little guy himself. No matter what happens, it’s a worthwhile effort and I hope people appreciate that,” he said.

editor@westerlynews.ca

Just Posted

Ucluelet talks pot shops

Two applications are being considered as cannabis retailers.

Ahousaht students kick off school year with inspirational field-trip

Maaqtusiis kicks off year with two-night stay at Cedar Coast Field Station on Vargas Island

Surf’s Up event in Tofino offers a wave of positivity for families living with autism

“There’s no other opportunity like this for kids like Rylan.”

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: Meet the candidates for the Courtenay-Alberni riding

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Alberni riding constituents, we have supplied… Continue reading

Crew keeps worried mother at bay while rescuing entangled baby humpback near Ucluelet

“These animals are massive, they’re powerful and it really is dangerous.”

Shambhala named best music festival in North America

Shambhala Music Festival is held at the Salmo River Ranch in B.C.

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Charges dropped against Mountie involved in shooting death of Surrey man

‘I feel like I’ve lost Hudson all over again,’ says mom

B.C. Interior caribou protection area big enough, minister says

Proposals sparked protest in Kootenays, Williams Lake region

Two B.C. women selected to compete on ABC’s The Bachelor

Mykenna Dorn and Alexis Thind will compete for bachelor Peter Weber’s heart

Most Read