Killer whale freed near Salt Spring BC puts on show for rescuers

October 17, 2019 | |Post a Comment

first_imgVANCOUVER – A killer whale has been rescued from some fishing gear off Vancouver Island, and one marine mammal specialist says the freed orca delighted his rescuers by putting on a show.Paul Cottrell with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says his team got a call early Thursday morning after a Salt Spring Island resident spotted a buoy being dragged around by a northeast Pacific transient killer whale .Rescuers from Vancouver went out to help and arrived to find the adult male orca caught in some commercial prawn-fishing gear.Cottrell says the team put some tension on the buoy the animal was attached to and the orca rolled out of the entanglement.Once the whale was free, it began to swim off, and Cottrell and his team followed to make sure it was completely free of the gear.He says the orca then began breaching and slapped the water with its tail several times.“It was quite a show he put on. Then he took off further north,” Cottrell said, noting that the reason for the display is unclear, but could have been due to the animal feeling relief.This isn’t the first time this particular whale — known as T077A — has been spotted getting into trouble.The animal has been spotted through the Strait of Georgia for many reasons, and has a “bad habit” of playing with floats and ropes, Cottrell said.Rescuing an orca is a dangerous job because the animals can weigh up to five tonnes and are very active.“The majority of the time, at least when I’ve been involved with entangled large whales, they don’t realize that you’re helping, so it’s very difficult,” Cottrell said.But this whale seemed calm and allowed rescuers to get close enough to assess the situation, he added.The animal didn’t seem to have any injuries as it swam away, but Cottrell said researchers will use drones and photos to keep an eye on his progress.A Fisheries and Oceans Canada hotline set up to help marine wildlife in distress off B.C.’s coast gets about 20 calls a year for entangled cetaceans, including killer whales.Cottrell said anyone who sees a whale in distress should call the number immediately.“If we know right away, we can get there and, hopefully, help the animal and do it in a timely manner,” he said.last_img

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