Rescued killer whale spotted reunited with family

Researchers studying killer whales off the coast of B.C. have finally got the good news they've been waiting for two years.

Researchers were hoping T46C2 would beat the odds

Sam, a young transient killer whale rescued in August 2013, has since been spotted still reunited with its family. (Brianna Wright/DFO)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada researchers studying killer whales off the coast of B.C. have finally got the good news they've been waiting for two years — Sam, a young transient killer whale rescued in August 2013, was spotted reunited with his family. 

The young orca, T46C2, was two years old when he was stranded in a small cove near remote Aristazabal Island on the North Coast of B.C. in the summer of 2013 for several weeks. 

Scientists kept a close eye on the juvenile, hoping he would leave the bay himself. But after a few weeks, he remained in the bay and continued to call loudly and repeatedly for his pod and was not eating properly.

Researchers even made several attempts to entice Sam to leave the harbour by playing transient orca calls with an underwater speaker, but the young orca appeared to be afraid of passing through the harbour's entrance.

Sam was stranded in a small cove near remote Aristazabal Island in the summer of 2013 for several weeks.

Eventually he was rescued in August 2013 and left the cove, and researchers hoped he would beat the odds and reunite with his T064C group. 

Two years later on July 2, DFO researchers spotted the young orca with its family. There was also another sighting of the whale with his mother the previous October by Oceans Initiative researchers. 

"This is the best possible outcome," said Carla Crossman, Vancouver Aquarium research biologist.

"These sightings indicate that Sam has successfully reintegrated with its family and that like other maternally-related groups of killer whales, the T046Cs are maintaining social cohesion over long periods of time."

Transient killer whales, which are also called Biggs killer whales, are one of four distinct populations of killer whales that live off the west coast of North America.