'Iconic' southern resident killer whale in dire condition off Vancouver Island
Researchers with the Orca Behavior Institute in Washington state say a well-known southern resident killer whale was seen in poor condition earlier this week.
The "iconic" male orca, K21, was spotted off the southern tip of Vancouver Island in the Race Rocks Marine Protected Area by a whale-watching vessel on Wednesday.
According to the Orca Behavior Institute, the orca, also known as Cappuccino, appeared emaciated and in poor health. His dorsal fin was also collapsed which can be a sign of illness, according to the institute.
"Cappuccino is one of the best-known southern residents, easily identifiable by his check-mark shaped saddle patches and a notch in his tall dorsal fin," said Monika Shields, director of the Orca Behavior Institute, in a release Friday.
Shields says Wednesday's sighting was a disheartening development after dozens of orcas were spotted in the Salish Sea on Tuesday, after being noticeably absent from their usual summer hunting ground for more than 100 days.
Shields adds that 35-year-old Cappuccino made it well into adulthood, which can be rare for the endangered southern residents.
"The average life expectancy of a male resident killer whale is about 30 years," Shields said. "It’s never easy to lose one of these whales, but it’s even worse when they aren’t living a complete life. K21 at least had that."
Cappuccino did not have any remaining immediate family members, according to the Orca Behavior Institute. However, he had been "adopted" by another adult female, K16 Opus. Researchers say the pair would regularly travel together.
When Cappuccino was last seen on Wednesday, researchers say he was several miles behind the rest of his pod.
"Some speculate he was left behind, while others suggest he may have chosen to be alone in this moment," said the Orca Behavior Institute.
Researchers say that southern resident killer whales sometimes gather in the Salish Sea to mark the birth or death of an orca.
"We will never know for sure why they all came here now, or how they made the decision of whether or not to be with K21 at this time," said Shields.
"While there are many similarities between us and them, whale culture is not human culture. I trust them to handle these difficult moments in the way that is right for them," she said.
Shields says the images taken of Cappuccino on Wednesday do not show any obvious signs of a ship strike or other external wounds.
Researchers say a Fisheries and Oceans Canada team is now trying to find the orca to examine his condition.
"While clearly malnourished, we cannot say for sure what contributed to his severe physical decline – illness, lack of food, or most likely some combination of factors," said the Orca Behavior Institute.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole refused to say Thursday whether he still thinks Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has handled the pandemic better than the federal government, as the province faces a rapidly worsening COVID-19 situation.
Health Canada has authorized brand name changes for three COVID-19 vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will now be named Comirnaty, the Moderna vaccine will be named SpikeVax, and the AstraZeneca vaccine will be named Vaxzevria, Health Canada said in a tweet Thursday.
Vaccine mandate protesters' use of Nazi imagery and comparisons to the Holocaust is angering Jewish organizations.
The truth of the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Canada is starkly clear inside the intensive care unit at Hamilton General, where the majority of the COVID-19 patients struggling on life support are young — and unvaccinated.
Albertans woke up Thursday to new restrictions implemented by the province to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has announced an temporary indoor masking mandate that will come into force on Friday followed by a proof-of-vaccination policy.
A man who was abducted early Thursday morning has been located with life-threatening injuries following a shooting and home invasion that left one of his sons dead and another in critical condition, Hamilton police say.
A question at the English-language federal leaders' debate last week has become a major issue in Quebec, boosting the Bloc Quebecois in the polls and drawing criticism from Quebec politicians, federal party leaders and the province's media.
With less then a week until election day, former U.S. president Barack Obama has waded into the fray to bolster the campaign of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
The victim of a suspicious death that has now been ruled a homicide was identified by B.C. investigators Thursday.
Drivers travelling between B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Interior are being warned to watch for changing road conditions after late-summer snow fell on multiple highways.
The victim of a shooting at an upscale hotel near Vancouver's waterfront has been identified.
LIVE at 3:30
LIVE at 3:30 | Hinshaw, Yiu to give COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon
Alberta health officials will give a COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon, a day after the province introduced new restrictions and a vaccine passport.
Alberta doctors are imploring the province to take the pandemic more seriously in the wake of new restrictions and are calling out Premier Kenney for his claims that the COVID-19 virus was 'not predictable.'
Police seek eight suspects in violent protest outside 14 Division following clearing of homeless encampment
Police have arrested three people in connection with a violent protest that took place outside 14 Division following the clearing of a homeless encampment earlier this summer.
The Toronto International Film Festival is reporting a case of COVID-19 in an audience member who attended press and industry screenings.
Quebec's Ministry of Health reported Thursday that 782 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, and two more people have died due to the disease.
A spokesperson for the hospital said the man's condition "deteriorated rapidly."
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with 20 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 173.
P.E.I. reports seven new cases of COVID-19 related to elementary school outbreak Thursday; active cases rise to record 34
Health officials in Prince Edward Island are reporting seven new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as the active number of cases in the province rises to 34 - the highest number of cases in the province since the pandemic began.
N.B. reports 51 new COVID-19 cases; 92 per cent of which are among people who are not fully vaccinated
New Brunswick Public Health reported 51 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including 47 – or 92 per cent – among people who are not fully vaccinated.
Manitoba public health officials reported 64 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday – including 36 unvaccinated cases, 20 fully vaccinated cases and eight partially vaccinated cases.
There are officially two names vying to become the next leader of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party next month.
A St. Boniface park could be getting a name change as its current one has been deemed offensive to Indigenous people in an application to the Welcoming Winnipeg Committee.
A Saskatchewan ICU doctor says the healthcare system is “stretched” and doctors have to make difficult calls as the number of COVID-19 cases rises.
UPDATED | Proof of vaccination program announced in Alberta as state of public health emergency declared
The government of Alberta has joined other provinces across Canada in announcing a proof of vaccination program as COVID-19 cases continue to soar to well over a thousand per day.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has announced a temporary indoor masking mandate that will come into force on Friday followed by a proof-of-vaccination policy.
Regina city council is pushing back its target date to require proof of vaccination from people entering city facilities.
Aaron Genest's Grade 10 son sat in three different classrooms at a Saskatoon high school over three days with a student who later tested positive for COVID-19.
The medical officer of health for the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) isn’t concerned about the renaming of the COVID-19 vaccines in Canada
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 33 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, but no new deaths.
One person has died following an early morning collision west of Exeter, Ont.
A Sudbury court has sentenced Steffin Rees, 19, to 15 years in jail Thursday for a fatal stabbing in 2019 in downtown Sudbury.
A 56-year-old man from Newfoundland has been charged with impaired driving of a helicopter in North Bay, Ont.
Sudbury police are looking for a suspect in a stabbing after two women were approached on a walking path in downtown Sudbury that resulted in one sustaining serious injuries.
Health officials in Waterloo Region reported 35 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
Just over a week into the new school year, Waterloo Region’s school boards have released COVID-19 vaccination figures for their employees.
A man living in a Brantford retirement home has been charged with manslaughter in connection to the death of another resident at the home.