Story at a glance

  • The whale was spotted Thursday stranded on rocks on Prince of Wales Island near the coast of British Columbia.
  • Boaters notified the U.S. Coast Guard, and officials authorized the boat crew to pump seawater on the animal to keep it wet and deter birds until wildlife officials arrived on the scene.
  • Several hours after the whale was spotted, the tide rose high enough for it to swim back out to sea.

A 20-foot-long killer whale that became stranded on rocks above the shoreline of an Alaskan island survived the ordeal with the help of several good samaritans and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

The Anchorage Daily News reports the orca was spotted Thursday by a nearby vessel at least 4 feet above the tide line on Prince of Wales Island near the coast of British Columbia. 

Boaters notified the U.S. Coast Guard and officials authorized the boat crew to pump seawater on the animal to keep it wet and deter birds until NOAA and Alaska Wildlife Troopers arrived on the scene. 

Photos posted to Twitter show the large animal lodged in the rocks as people poured buckets of water over it to keep it wet. 

A NOAA law enforcement officer arrived on the island by Thursday afternoon and advised people to stay away. 


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“This animal is in a situation where it is exceedingly stressed,” NOAA spokeswoman Julie Speegle told the Anchorage Daily News. “The more humans nearby, the more it will be stressed.” 

Officials said the stranded orca was making clicks, whistles and pulsing calls as more killer whales were seen near the area offshore. The whale appeared to be injured. 

Several hours after the whale was spotted, the tide rose high enough for it to swim back out to sea. 

A group of British Columbia-based marine biologists were able to determine the whale was a 13-year-old juvenile previously identified as T146D. 


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Published on Aug 02, 2021