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Free Sam? Vancouver Aquarium, DFO staff rescue juvenile orca

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    Digital writers

    Sunday, August 18, 2013, 1:43 PM -

    A juvenile orca is free to roam the seas off British Columbia once again, after it spent at least three weeks trapped in a bay off Aristazabal Island, along the central B.C. coast.

    "This animal just tore your heart strings,'' Lance Barrett-Lennard, who runs the Vancouver Aquarium's marine mammal research program, told the Canadian Press Friday, a day after he and a crew from the federal Fisheries and Oceans Department rescued the whale and returned it to sea. "I spent a few nights in the bay and he was calling incessantly, these almost human-like calls and screams. You could really relate to him as a very distressed animal trying desperately, trying to make social contact again.''

    The researchers used a rope and whale calls via an underwater speaker to coax Sam out of the bay.

    They were running out of time: Aquarium staff said the whale's health had visibly deteriorated by Aug 10, five days before his eventual exit.

    Researchers have been tracking the whale since he was born in 2009.

    The aquarium is asking boaters to keep a lookout for Sam. Here's how.

    With files from the Canadian Press.

    Want more animal video goodness? There's more in our online gallery.

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