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They worked to free an orca from fishing gear, and here's how it thanked them

Playful orcas ply Tacoma Narrows, Puget Sound

Video footage of an orca pod, perhaps numbering seven in all, shot recently by Jamie Bisceglia of Fox Island while out fishing near the Tacoma Narrows bridges.
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Video footage of an orca pod, perhaps numbering seven in all, shot recently by Jamie Bisceglia of Fox Island while out fishing near the Tacoma Narrows bridges.

Apparently, "thank you" is the same in any language — even if you're another species.

A Canadian rescue team on Thursday freed a massive transient orca that had become entangled in some commercial fishing gear off the coast of Salt Spring Island, B.C. — just off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island and about 42 miles west of Ferndale.

According to a CTV story about the rescue, the whale was first spotted near a buoy at 5:30 a.m. and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) received notice of a whale in distress at 7:30 a.m. Salt Springs residents Keith Simpson and Suzanne Ambers spotted the whale on a morning fishing trip.

DFO pictures sent to CTV showed the animal staying in one area and trailing a long line holding approximately 50 prawn traps, the story said.

"It went down and it would pull the ball underwater, and it came up and it would breathe for a little while, then go back down," Simpson told CTV.

DFO Marine Mammal Coordinator for B.C. and Yukon Paull Cottrell told CTV he and his crew knew they had a serious issue, "because killer whales are not as resilient in terms of their ability to have a lot of stamina with lifting gear like the large whales."

Cottrell said the crews were able to free the whale by putting some tension on the buoy and allowing the orca to roll out of the entanglement.

And they were rewarded for their hard work, as the orca gave them a show — almost like it was showing appreciation.

"It took off right away and started breaching all over," Cottrell told CTV. "It was quite something, and just a relief that the animal was free."

The Orca Network's Facebook page also was appreciative of the rescue efforts, identifying the orca as T77A and saying, "Many of us got to see him in early March when he was traveling inland Puget Sound with a large group. Be safe and well big guy!"

According to a post on The Transient Killer Whale Research Project's Facebook page, this wasn't the first time T77A has become entangled in fishing gear, as he also was spotted in November 2015 a little bit further north in the Stuart Channel, but he managed to disentangle himself that time.

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