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False killer whale found injured near Tofino dies

Last Updated Nov 24, 2017 at 7:27 pm PDT

Chester, a false killer whale that was taken into the care of the Vancouver Aquarium after he was found injured near Tofino in 2014, died Nov. 24, 2017. (Lasia Kretzel NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Chester, the false killer whale that was found stranded at a beach near Tofino three years ago, has died.

The Vancouver Aquarium says Chester’s behaviour changed Wednesday afternoon.

“Despite intensive overnight care Wednesday and Thursday, Chester passed away early this morning,” reads a news release from the aquarium.

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When he was found, he was only a month-old calf. He was in extremely poor shape with cuts and wounds along his body. The Vancouver Aquarium says he had less than 10 per cent chance of survival at the time.

Chester was deemed non-releasable by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and moved to the Vancouver Aquarium where he lived the rest of his life.

The aquarium has not said specifically how Chester died.

The Aquarium says the animal’s health was compromised when he was found on the beach in Tofino and continued to have health challenges for the rest of his life.

“Chester was about a month old when he was found; a still nursing calf with no sign of his mother. He was in extremely poor shape with lacerations and wounds along his body. Because he was so young when he was found, his lack of life skills would have most certainly have meant his death in the wild. He did not know how to forage for food or avoid predators,” says the aquarium in the release.

Chester’s death comes nearly exactly a year after daughter/mother belugas Qila and Aurora died of an unknown illness just days apart.

UBC Marine Biologist Andrew Trites says the loss of Chester should reverberate through the community.

“He was able to have a good quality of life and he contributed to science, but I think more importantly he educated 4-million people who had never heard of him or his species before,” says Trites. “Chester by all accounts, should have died when he beached. There would have been no way for him to survive if people hadn’t come to his rescue.”

He is the fourth cetacean to die at the aquarium in a little over a year.