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B.C. First Nation urges boaters to stay away from recently freed orca calf

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The Ehattesaht First Nation is urging boaters to steer clear of a young orca calf that recently escaped a B.C. lagoon where she had been stranded for weeks after her pregnant mother died.

A Thursday update on the whale, named kʷiisaḥiʔis or Brave Little Hunter, said there have "sadly" been reports of "some interactions with vessels in the area."

Leaving the young mammal alone is the best thing people can do to ensure her survival, according to Chief Simon John.

"No matter how interested or connected we may feel, being with humans is exactly the wrong thing for kʷiisaḥiʔis," he said in a statement.

John said one of the concerns during the lengthy rescue effort was that the whale would become too habituated to humans and might start to associate boats with food. To prevent people from disturbing the whale, the nation as well as the Marine mammal Rescue Unit will be increasing patrols in the area.

"We are very confident that she can survive out there on her own," John writes.

Boaters who see the whale are being urged to change course and told not to stop and watch her or to engage with her in any way. They are also being reminded that there are strict rules in place that require vessels to stay at least 200 metres away from the endangered whales in B.C.

"We have all worked so hard for her and we cannot let up now," the statement concludes.

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