Raw footage courtesy of Cetacea Lab. Video edited by Carlos Tello
Biologist and Cetacea Lab co-founder Janie Wray says the trip from Gil Island to a stranded young female orca was “probably the longest 40 minutes” of her life.
After receiving a 7:30 a.m. call from a research colleague, Wray and her co-director Hermann Meuter raced against time to reach the whale wedged between jagged rocks on B.C.’s northern coast. The orca would remain there another eight hours, until the tide rose again.
Wray and Meuter teamed up with colleague Eric Keen, and with Nicole Robinson and Archie Dundas of the GitGa’at Guardians of Hartley Bay. The group contacted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who advised them to keep the orca wet and cool, and to minimize stress until the tide rose again. It was the latter that proved most challenging.
“When we first arrived on the rock, she was stressed by our presence. You could tell by her breathing,” Wray recalled. “But over time her breathing slowed down and she finally closed her eyes. It was in that moment that she recognized that we were trying to help her.”
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