Dead orca calf found off B.C. coast a transient: DFO
A new killer whale calf, dubbed J54, has been spotted swimming off the coast of Vancouver Island. Dec. 16, 2015. (Ivan Reiff/Facebook)
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, January 11, 2016 5:00PM PST
Last Updated Monday, January 11, 2016 5:16PM PST
Warning: Graphic images in story
Oceans officials have confirmed that an orca calf found dead off the coast of Tofino last month was not a member of the endangered southern resident killer whale population.
The female calf was a Bigg’s killer whale from the Gulf of Alaska transient population, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed on Twitter Monday.
A surfer spotted the animal’s 400-pound carcass washed up on Mussel Beach near Ucluelet on Dec. 23 and called the DFO to report it.
A tissue sample analysis completed by scientists at the Vancouver Aquarium confirmed the calf to be a Gulf of Alaska transient, the aquarium said.
It was previously unknown whether the calf belonged to the southern resident population, the only orca population protected by the federal Species at Risk Act.
While B.C. Bigg’s killer whales are listed as threatened under the act, less is known about the Gulf of Alaska Bigg’s whales.
Calves’ chance of surviving their fast year is estimated at less than 50 per cent, according to the aquarium.
The animal’s cause of death remains unknown.
The body of a killer whale calf apparently provided food for wolves after it washed ashore on Muscle Beach, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Dec. 24, 2015. (DFO)