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Search on for orca whale who may be dangerously tangled in gear

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 5, 2015 in Environment
An orca killer whale may be tangled up in fishing gear off of the coast of Vancouver Island and two groups are trying to help. The transient whale, often seen with another whale, was recently photographed and the photos suggest it is tangled badly.
Whale tangled in rope
The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) is looking for the 19-year-old whale, known as T077A, and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are prepared to send a crew of expert marine biologists to do the untangling should it be needed.
The whale and its friend, known as T49C, are seen often in the coastal waterways of Stuart Channel near Chemainus toward the southern end of Vancouver Island. A traveller on the Thetis Island-Chemainus Ferry took photos this week of the whale and upon examining them saw he appeared to be tangled in some kind of fishing gear.
A local boat captain, Alan Niles, has been looking for the whale at the behest of his boss at San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours, Captain Hobbes Buchanan. Global TV News reports Buchanan is working with PWWA and spending his own money to have his employee conduct the search.
Search on for Orca
Buchanan's seen TO77A and T49C, known as the twins though not related, in the area for years and cares for them a great deal. "The twins are my favorite male transient orcas because they’re just plain funny," he said.
"They’re so social and curious," he added. "Doing what I do for a living you just can’t help but get attached to these animals. I have to help these guys when they need it."
Unlike many other species of whales, killer whales only rarely get tangled and when they do are often able to get themselves out of trouble. However, it does happen and those involved in the search say they intend to keep looking until they are certain the whale is okay.
Paul Cottrell of the DFO said that if anyone comes upon the whale and it is tangled they should not try to help it but instead call the B.C. Marine Mammal Response Network at 1-800-465-4336.
It's not known what gear the whale may have been tangled up in.
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