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Stranded orca calf swims free, experts hope to reunite her with family pod

An orca calf trapped in a lagoon for a month after her mother died swam out on her own early this morning.

A statement from the Ehattesaht First Nation says kʷiisaḥiʔis the ‘Brave Little Hunter’ swam out of the Zeballos lagoon around 2:30 am, with the high tide. This morning, she was spotted moving into Esperanza Inlet, which connects with the open ocean.

The statement says the rescue team will now focus on encouraging her to keep going, so her calls will be hopefully heard by her family pod.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the local nations are asking people and boaters to keep clear of the area, to prevent anything from discouraging the orca from reuniting with her family.

The orca had been in the lagoon for a month after she and her mother entered chasing prey. When the tide went out, her mother was beached and died. The only entrance to the lagoon is a narrow passage under a bridge, only open at the highest tides.

Rescuers have been trying to encourage the calf to leave ever since, with almost 50 people involved in the attempts at one point, with everything under consideration from a helicopter lift, to banging metal pipes underwater.

In the end, the orca swam out on her own terms.

The orca is a Biggs killer whale, which eat mainly marine mammals. Rescuers have been feeding her seal meat during her time in the lagoon.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

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