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Bigger boats, more nets, individuals arrive in Zeballos for new orca rescue attempt

The female calf has been stranded alone for nearly a month since its pregnant mother died after becoming trapped on a beach at low tide.

ZEBALLOS — A seine fishing vessel able to throw a strong net to hold a nearly 700-kilogram killer whale calf has reached Zeballos to take part in the latest effort to rescue the young orca stuck in a remote tidal lagoon.

The flat-bottom aluminum vessel has a built-in crane-like device for lifting heavy nets, and it’s expected to be used as part of a rescue effort that could occur soon in the lagoon on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island.

The female calf has been stuck alone for almost a month since its pregnant mother passed away after getting stuck on a beach during low tide.

An unsuccessful rescue attempt last Friday involved a team of more than 50 individuals who failed to corral the calf into a shallow area of the lagoon, where the plan was to guide the whale into a sling, lift it onto a truck, then take it on a barge out to sea, for a potential reunion with its pod.

Ehattesaht First Nation Chief Simon John says the next attempt to rescue the calf — which the nation has named the young orca kwiisahi? is, or Brave Little Hunter — will “happen eventually.”

Additional equipment and resources, including marine experts from the Vancouver Aquarium, the federal Fisheries Department and Indigenous nations, have gathered again in Zeballos for the second planned rescue attempt in just over a week.

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