Scientists hope to reunite orphaned orca with its family

Friday, June 14, 2002

OFF VASHON ISLAND, Wash. -- Divers captured a 1,200-pound orphaned orca in Puget Sound on Thursday, beginning a weeklong effort to reunite the young whale with her family.

The lost killer whale, originally from a pod in Canada, has been alone since January off the north end of this island, southwest of Seattle. Her eagerness for company had convinced scientists that she could not safely remain in Puget Sound, where she could be injured by a propeller or inadvertently damage a small boat.

The 11-foot-long orca was guided by snorkelers and rescue boats into a sling and then hoisted by crane onto a 65-foot boat.

A thick foam pad was placed on the boat's deck for the whale and ice was on hand to keep her cool as temperatures neared 90 degrees.

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