It was an exciting day for Chester, the false killer whale calf that was rescued this past summer from Chesterman beach in Tofino. At 7:30 a.m. this morning Chester was relocated from our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre to a larger pool behind the scenes at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

“Chester has been receiving around-the-clock care at our Rescue Centre and has really grown since his arrival nearly five months ago,” said Vancouver Aquarium head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena. “He has gained a considerable amount of weight and strength, is now weaned to a fish diet and is very active, and in generally good health. He has simply outgrown the above ground emergency facilities at our Rescue Centre.”

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre

The marine mammal team prepares Chester for the move.

Under authorization from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Chester’s move was uneventful with the entire process taking less than 30 minutes from the Rescue Centre to the research area at the Aquarium.

This new habitat can better handle Chester’s new found energy, from tail slaps often soaking volunteers to multiple breaches and more active swim sessions. Also, with the cooler weather, this new space will give the animal care team better control over the water temperatures and better access for his ongoing care.

Chester, rescued false killer whale.

Chester has been weaned onto a diet of Pacific herring, capelin and whole squid.

Rarely seen in B.C. waters, Chester was found near death on North Chesterman Beach on July 10: underweight, dehydrated, with multiple wounds from stranding and both eyes closed. With no teeth yet erupted he was determined to be just four to six weeks old, a developmental stage when cetacean calves rely totally upon their mothers for food and care.

Vancouver Aquarium Rescue Centre

Chester is adjusting to his new surroundings.

Though his chance of survival was initially estimated at just 10 per cent, Chester responded well to treatment. His remarkable rehabilitation has provided invaluable learning opportunities for veterinarians, scientists and students around the world as limited information is available about false killer whales, particularly in Canada. Chester is contributing to a greater body of knowledge by participating in valuable research, such as vocalization and echolocation studies by Vancouver Aquarium research associate Kathy Heise, and assessment of his lung function via respirometry by graduate student Marina Piscitelli.

You can make an impact on rescued animals such as Chester by donating towards his care at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit society and does not receive ongoing funds for rescue efforts. Donations made to the Vancouver Aquarium directly support our Rescue Centre’s ability to rescue and rehabilitate distressed marine animals.

Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, presented by Port Metro Vancouver and supported by Teekay Shipping, is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals. The Rescue Centre rescues stranded marine mammals and rehabilitates them for release back into their natural habitat. Donate to the Rescue Centre at

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2 Responses

    • Vancouver Aquarium

      Hi Carlo thank you for your interest. Right now our staff are still working to make modifications to the habitat to ensure it is both safe and comfortable for Chester. Stay tuned for details over the coming few weeks, we’ll continue to share on our social media channels and the AquaBlog.


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