Stranded orca calf in Canadian lagoon to be airlifted and reunited with pod, rescuers say

Plans are being made to airlift a stranded orca calf out of a remote tidal lagoon off northern Vancouver Island in an effort to reunite the young orca with its extended family, Canadian authorities said Wednesday. Officials from the Canadian Fisheries Department and First Nations said the plan involves placing the 2-year-old calf into a sling, lifting it out of the lagoon by helicopter and putting it in a net pen in the water while they wait for its family pod to be near before release. Rescuers have been unable to coax the young whale out of the area since its pregnant mother was stranded at low tide in the lagoon and died March 23. The plan was agreed to during a meeting between members of the Ehattesaht First Nation council, Fisheries Department officials and marine technical experts. Ehattesaht First Nation Chief Simon John said his people have deep cultural and spiritual connections to orcas and the nation has been receiving calls of concern and support from around the world. Paul Cottrell, a rescue coordinator with the Fisheries Department, said the rescue could occur within days, but more likely within the next two weeks.