Rescue of orca calf kʷiisaḥiʔis from B.C. lagoon to pick up again

Efforts to rescue an orphaned orca calf in a Vancouver Island lagoon are going to be picking up again after a weekend pause.

kʷiisaḥiʔis has been stuck in a remote tidal lagoon near Zeballos on the island for about three weeks, but so far rescue attempts have been unsuccessful.

What will happen next is still unclear, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says it continues to work with the Ehattesaht First Nation on a rescue strategy.

The department says the goal is to have planning and logistics finalized in the next few days. Until then, it says her health is being monitored and appears to be OK for the time being.

Taryn Scarff, a graduate research assistant at UBC who specializes in marine mammals, says the animal is likely under a large amount of stress.

“It’s just a big fear of the unknown, I would suspect, or predict. It would kind of be like a child being lost at the mall; they’ve been to the mall before, but they don’t know how to act without their parent around.”

Timing of the rescue efforts will continue to be weather dependent.

kʷiisaḥiʔis — which means “Brave Little Hunter — has been stuck in the lagoon for more than three weeks, after both she and her pregnant mother got stranded at high tide the night of March 22.

With files from Hana Mae Nassar.