Federal officials are investigating the possibility that an endangered orca found on the Sunshine Coast was killed by a boat after the whale showed signs of physical injury.
It will be some time before full results come back from a necropsy performed last night and officials haven’t concluded a cause of death.
But Paul Cottrell with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says there were some worrying signs.
“There is some blunt force trauma on the head and neck area, which is concerning and something we’re looking into in more detail in terms of the tissue side of things, we do have fishery officers involved looking at all of the circumstances around that,” he said.
Cottrell says it’s possible the injuries could have been sustained in a fight but admits boat strike is also a possibility.
“That’s definitely a potential cause for sure. And there’s other, sometimes there’s aggressive interactions between animals that can cause blunt force trauma, breaching on an animal, but again it’s going to depend how extensive this injury is on the animal,” he said.
The dead orca was first spotted on Monday night, but it wasn’t until yesterday that officials with assistance from Sechelt First Nations were able to bring it to shore.
The skeleton from the orca – from the famous “J-Pod” – will go to the Sechelt band.
The death leaves the endangered Southern Resident orca population with just 79 members.