Residents of Salt Spring Island helped alert the Department of Fisheries and Oceans this week to an entangled killer whale off the B.C. coast.
The transient orca had become wound up in commercial prawn fishing gear near Vesuvius, according to DFO officials, who say this isn’t the first time this particular whale has caused some minor chaos in the ocean.
“He’s known for playing with rope and floats,” said Paul Cottrell, marine mammals coordinator with the DFO’s Pacific region.
“He also has a bad habit of interacting with prop engines and nets, but in previous times he’s been able to free himself. This time he had gotten his tail wrapped.”
Cottrell said the DFO was alerted at around 7:30 Thursday morning, and members of their response team arrived two hours later.
“I do a lot of these rescues and the killer whale was quite calm when we were close and that was quite a different experience than dealing with humpback and grey whales,” he explained.
“This situation was a little different, and then the whale was able to roll out of the entanglement on its own.”
Cottrell credits the Salt Spring residents for quickly calling the DFO’s emergency marine mammal distress line at 1-800-465-4336 and alerting officials.
Once the whale had worked itself free, the response team followed along to make sure it was alright.
Seeing it swim, jump and slap the water with its tail, Cottrell only hopes the large mammal finally learned its lesson this time.