‘It’s a crime against science’: Dead orca’s teeth sawed off overnight
Animal advocates say they are horrified after discovering somebody illegally desecrated the body of a dead orca whale found off the coast of Vancouver Island earlier this week.
The body underwent a necropsy Saturday, but officials say overnight, a thief or thieves stole teeth from the remains of “Rhapsody,” as the whale was known to researchers.
“Someone last night selfishly, cruelly, illegally cut off several teeth from her,” said Marcie Callewaert of the Victoria Marine Science Association. “It’s a crime that can’t be described. It’s a crime against science; it’s a crime against her and the respect to Rapsody.”
The 18-year-old pregnant orca was found floating in the water off a fishing resort near Courtenay, B.C. on Thursday.
On Saturday, bystander Jean Rowe discovered someone had removed four of the whale’s teeth with a saw.
Yellow tape cordoned off the animal's body overnight, but no security was posted to the area.
Rowe said a Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigator has been called in to examine the case.
“We’re just sick about that,” he said. “It makes no sense and it’s really unfortunate, and we’re definitely looking into that and we have pictures and a fisheries officer who will be following up with who that may have been.”
Researchers spent much of Saturday dissecting the whale, collecting skin samples, organ samples and fluids to help them determine how she died.
They suggest the whale, which belonged to an endangered “Southern residents” pod tracked by experts, may have been giving birth at the time of her death.
“The uterus is extremely important in this animal,” said Paul Cottrell, Pacific Marine Mammal Coordinator. “It appears there’s a near-full-term fetus, so that whole fetus and placenta and uterus is being taken back to Abbotsford to be looked at in detail.”
Officials say solving the mystery of why she died, as well as figuring out who removed the animal’s teeth, will take several weeks to determine.
Members of the resident pod are commonly spotted off the B.C. coast between April to November, but usually go into mainland inlets or offshore during the colder winter months.
With files from CTV2’s Gord Kurbis