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Plans to remove a B.C. orca baby from a remote lagoon could happen within two weeks

Federal Fisheries Department officials, the area’s Ehattesaht First Nation and marine mammal rescue experts are convinced that the only way to save the two-year-old orca calf is to risk hoisting it from the tidal lagoon near Zeballos.

ZEBALLOS — A rescue effort to take a killer whale calf out of a faraway tidal lagoon off northern Vancouver Island may occur within the next two weeks.

Federal Fisheries Department officials, the area’s Ehattesaht First Nation and marine mammal rescue experts are certain that the only way to save the two-year-old orca calf is to attempt hoisting it from the tidal lagoon near Zeballos.

Paul Cottrell, a marine mammal coordinator with the department, says rescue crews will try to place the young whale in a sling and lift it to the open ocean.

The plan then involves moving the orca calf to a large net pen in the ocean where its health can be checked and it has the best chance of reuniting with its family pod.

Ehattesaht First Nation Chief Simon John says previous efforts to encourage the young whale to leave the lagoon have been unsuccessful, and the nation wants to explore every available opportunity to save its life.

The orca calf has been stuck near Little Espinosa Inlet since March 23, when its pregnant mother became stranded on a rocky beach at high tide and died.

Zeballos is located more than 450 kilometres northwest of Victoria.

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