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6095Orca breaks the rudder off a sailboat in Nootka Sound

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  • Don
    Jul 2, 2004
      Orca breaks the rudder off a sailboat in Nootka Sound

      Victoria Times Colonist


      July 2, 2004

      VICTORIA - An orca whale at the centre of a dispute between federal fisheries officials and a first nations band disabled a sailboat this week.

      Luna, a solitary killer whale who has developed an affinity for boats and planes for lack of other whales to play with, broke the rudder off the sailboat in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island Wednesday morning.

      The Canadian Coast Guard responded to the incident and the boat was towed into a nearby marina by an aluminum boat belonging to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, which has blocked attempts to have the whale captured and moved closer to its family pod.

      The behaviour has again raised fears about how the playful orca can be controlled as boating season picks up in Nootka Sound. "This is not unusual behaviour for him and it is the reason why we wanted to go ahead with the relocation in the first place," said Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokeswoman Lara Sloan. "He is a public danger."

      DFO decided earlier this year that the four-year-old orca should be caught, transported to Pedder Bay near Victoria and released when his pod was within acoustic range, because he had become a danger to himself and the public.

      However, the plans went awry because people from the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, who believe Luna embodies the spirit of their dead chief Ambrose Maquinna, paddled their canoes near the orca to lure it away from a net pen set up by fisheries officials.

      The plans are on hold until DFO and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht agree on the future of the whale.

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