July 15th, 2024

Orphan B.C. orca calf unseen since May 10 despite family sightings: researchers

By The Canadian Press on July 4, 2024.

Two-year-old female orca calf, named kwiisahi?is, or Brave Little Hunter, by the Ehattesaht First Nation, is spotted at the Little Espinosa Inlet near Zeballos, B.C., Friday, April 19, 2024. A whale research group says the last confirmed sighting of an orphan orca calf that escaped from a tidal lagoon off northern Vancouver Island was May 10 despite numerous recent sightings of family members. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA – A whale research group that was involved in efforts to rescue an orphaned orca calf from a Vancouver Island lagoon says she has not been seen since May 10, despite multiple recent sightings of her family members.

A statement from Bay Cetology says the two-year-old female killer whale known as kwiisahi?is or Brave Little Hunter could be travelling with an unsighted pod, moving between groups or “she is gone.”

The statement says there have been several documented sightings of the calf’s maternal family and related groups of Bigg’s killer whales since she swam free of the lagoon near the village of Zeballos on April 26.

However, there has been no sightings of kwiisahi?is for almost eight weeks.

Bay Cetology says it doesn’t think the calf would have died before the end of May because of her body condition when she was last sighted, and the fact that she had been showing interest in prey since returning to open water.

The group says it’s likely that sometime in mid-May the calf joined a group or moved on from the area around Esperanza Inlet where she was last seen.

The calf was trapped in the lagoon for more than a month after the death of her pregnant mother, which became trapped on a rocky beach at low tide and died.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2024.

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