Saturday, May 18, 2024

Operation to save stranded and orphaned orca calf near Zeballos cancelled last minute (UPDATED)



At around 12:45 p.m. the DFO and Ehattesaht First Nation decided to cancel the operation last minute.

This is because according to the Ehattesaht, kʷiisaḥiʔis simply decided that she is not ready to be moved.

“There were a number of methods employed this morning to coax her into the shallow end of the lagoon and at each coordinated manouvre she evaded and returned to the area she has been hanging out in,” said the Ehattesaht First Nation in a statement.

“It is during efforts like this that many of us are truly humbled at the intelligence, adaptability and resilience of the orca.”

“No matter how much we study these amazing creatures the more we realize how little we know.  We are always amazed us with how quickly they learn,” the Nation added.

Experts who were on site this morning say that kʷiisaḥiʔis appears to still be in good health, and breathing well.

For the remainder of the afternoon, the Nation’s cultural leaders will sing to the whale from a canoe.


Brave Little Warrior, also known as kʷiisaḥiʔis, has been stuck in a lagoon near Zeballos for over two weeks now after her mother died while showing her how to hunt.

The lagoon has just one entrance and exit which has been blocked by the very sandbar which her mother was beached and died on. 

Countless efforts have been made by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Ehattesaht First Nation and their neighbouring communities to aid the young, orphaned orca calf get out.

So far, all attempts have been unsuccessful, in large part due to the challenging location, weather conditions and tides. 

In the interim, kʷiisaḥiʔis has been being fed seal meat and has been seen eating birds she hunted in the lagoon. 

In the last major update, the DFO said that her skin pigment was beginning to change, which may alarm some people upon first glance, but this is simply because the salinity of the lagoons waters are different than that of kʷiisaḥiʔis’ regular habitat in the ocean. 


Today, on Friday, April 12th, the DFO announced that after many long days of planning, an operation will be conducted to airlift the young whale out of the lagoon so she can be reunited with her family pod which has been spotted and tracked nearby. 

“The rescue team is working to initiate the rescue and relocation of the whale in the lagoon near Zeballos,” said the DFO in a media release. 

“We appreciate the level of interest we all have in a successful rescue operation. However, the rescue team needs their focus to do this.”

The DFO asks all interested parties near the location to respect all road closures and to keep away from the area to ensure the operation’s success.  

Following the operation, the DFO will announce the status of kʷiisaḥiʔis’ rescue, but said that until the mission is complete, no updates will be provided. 

Curtis Blandy

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