An orca calf found dead on Nootka Island was given a spiritual send-off by members of a local First Nation Thursday.

The small killer whale was discovered Wednesday washed up on a beach on the west coast of the island.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it had just brought the calf to the Lower Mainland for a necropsy to determine why it died.

"We obviously want to know why the killer whale calf died, the ecotype of this killer whale," Cottrell told CTV Vancouver.

Cottrell said there are four different ecotypes: Offshores, transients, northern residents and the endangered southern residents.

Elders of the local Mowachaht/Muchalaht Nation performed a ceremony to say goodbye to the young orca.

"Killer whales are a very important mammal in Mowachaht and Nuu-chah-nulth life," Nootka resident Ray Williams told local newspaper Ha-Shilth-Sa. "A lot of our younger generation don’t understand that sort of thing because they didn’t grow up the way we did, in our beliefs and our ways."

They thanked DFO for first bringing the orca's body to them to perform the ceremony before transporting it to the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford for a DNA analysis.

The DFO is also investigating a dead humpback whale that turned up Friday in shallow waters near BC Ferries' Tsawwassen terminal.