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UPDATE: Rescue for stranded young killer whale called off Friday

Attempts to rescue a young killer whale stranded in a North Island lagoon were called off late this afternoon [April 12].

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) says the orca was not ready to be moved, the team is now planning the next steps and will try again in a few days.

In a statement DFO says the young whale evaded several attempts to coax her into the shallow end of the lagoon, where she could be put into a sling.

They had originally planned to hold the orca in a net pen in the ocean to wait for her family pod to come near, but local witness Ryan Michael says they will now release her directly into the ocean, where her calls are more likely to be heard by the other orcas.

Nearly two dozen people are working on the rescue, including whale experts and veterinarians.

The orca calf has been stranded for two weeks in the lagoon near Zeballos since her mother died. The mother and calf are Biggs killer whales, which hunt and eat seals and sea lions almost exclusively. They were chasing their prey when the pair became stranded in the lagoon, which is only open to the ocean at the highest of tides.

The mother died after becoming beached at low tide and early attempts to persuade the calf to leave the lagoon were unsuccessful.

When she is ready. the young whale, named “Brave Little Hunter” by the Ehattesaht First Nation, will be corralled in the lagoon with a net, then hoisted out in a sling and taken to the ocean.

We will post updates about the rescue as they become available.

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