Ehattesaht First Nation Chief Simon John says a highly orchestrated attempt to rescue a killer whale calf stranded in a Vancouver Island lagoon could happen as early as next week.

He says the clock is ticking to save the two-year-old orca calf which has been alone in the lagoon at Little Espinosa Inlet since March 23, when its pregnant mother became trapped on a rocky beach at low tide and died.

John says equipment for the planned rescue has started to arrive in the remote community of Zeballos, located more than 450 kilometres north of Victoria.

He says a large seine net more than 270 metres long arrived from Campbell River Thursday and is expected to be used to corral the young killer whale in a shallow area of the lagoon.

John says the rescue team is also expecting the Sunday arrival of a net pen similar to those used at B.C. salmon farms to house the young orca at a yet-to-be-determined ocean location.

He says earlier plans to use a helicopter to lift the killer whale calf out of the lagoon have been overtaken by the effort to place the young orca in a sling and move it from the lagoon to the net pen by a specially outfitted vehicle, landing craft or boat.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2024.

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