A rare false killer whale calf that washed up on a beach in B.C. has a very long road to recovery, officials at the Vancouver Aquarium say.
The calf was discovered in Tofino, B.C., Thursday and transported to the aquarium's marine mammal rescue centre Thursday evening.
It measures nearly 2 m in length and is likely between four and six weeks old and was still nursing, the aquarium's head veterinarian Martin Haulena said in a release.
It had several cuts and wounds along its body and was too weak to swim on its own. At the centre, staff members had to initially hold the calf in their arms until they could transfer it to a specially designed floating sling.
"The transport went well but he is in critical condition and there were some worrying dips in his heart rate and respiration last night. We've started treatment and have conducted diagnostic tests. The hope is that he begins to recover and slowly gain weight," he said.
Treatment -- including fluids, antibiotics and formula designed just for marine mammals -- has already begun.
While the biggest hurdle was getting the calf through the first 24 hours, Haulena said they are not out of the woods yet.
"Historically, stranded cetaceans have had a low chance of survival. It's always touch-and-go with young marine mammals who have become separated from their mothers, and rescuing a false killer whale is a new experience for us - very few veterinarians and other professionals around the world have experience rehabilitating stranded false killer whale calves," Haulena said.
A false killer whale is actually a member of the dolphin family and is normally found in tropical waters and only occasionally seen in the waters off B.C.