British Columbia

Dead orca found off B.C.'s Sunshine Coast

Department of Fisheries, Vancouver Aquarium, to perform necropsy on whale

Orca

Officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans inspect a dead orca near Sechelt, B.C., on Dec. 21, 2016. (Graham Moore)

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A deceased adult Orca was found floating off the shore of Sechelt, B.C., on Wednesday.

The Vancouver Aquarium confirmed that members with its Marine Mammal Research Program are en route to Sechelt to work with the DFO in performing a necropsy.

"We've got the whale now on the beach, and we're actually in the middle of the necropsy," said Paul Cottrell, the DFO's marine mammal coordinator. 

The whale was originally spotted on Tuesday night, said Cottrell, but it wasn't until this afternoon that it could be safely secured and brought to shore.

He credited the Coast Guard and Sechelt First Nation for being quickly available to assist with the recovery.

"The people we were able to get here quickly is amazing, and a testament to how dedicated they are," he said. 

"Every day that goes by you lose information in terms of tissues and pathologies. So it's good that we acted fast in determining the cause of death for this animal."

Part of the J pod family

Cottrell said the whale was J-34, a male born in 1998.

Also known as Double Stuf, J-34 was part of the pod that experienced a baby boom in 2015, with eight calves born in total. 

It's one of three pods that make up the southern resident killer whale population, and it is comprised of approximately 80 members.

Canada listed the southern resident killer whale as endangered under the Species At Risk Act in 2003.

"It's a real unfortunate event, given the endangered status of the population," said Cottrell.

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