We’re doing things a bit different for this Staff Pick of the Month by focusing on an individual, rather than a species, and with good reason. He has an incredible survival story and was recently moved into the Aquarium’s Wild Coast habitat. Without further ado, we present August’s winner… Chester!

His nominator, Melissa B., is a marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, so she knows the false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) very well. In fact, she was there from the very beginning. She says, “I have been part of his rescue and rehab from day one until now. From seeing firsthand what poor health he was in, and now seeing him learn and grow every day, it’s truly been a life-changing experience for me.”

False Killer Whale Rescue Vancouver Aquarium

Melissa (front, right) is a marine mammal trainer at the Aquarium. Here staff celebrate the one year rescue anniversary of Chester.

Despite having “whale” in their name, false killer whales are actually part of the dolphin family, like killer whales. Killer whales are the largest dolphins in the world.

Chester was rescued by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre team with help from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Tofino residents. After 11,000 hours of staff and volunteer care, Chester was successfully rehabilitated and moved to the Vancouver Aquarium. Because of his age at rescue, DFO concluded that he wouldn’t survive if released into the wild.

Melissa says, “It’s very exciting to interact with him and learn from him.” Chester has already been involved in research to help scientists understand how dolphins develop vocalizations.”

Vancouver Aquarium false killer whale

Chester is already contributing to important research on cetaceans.

Melissa encourages visitors to join Aquarium interpreters and trainers for daily talks which allow for his amazing story of rescue and rehab to inspire and excite visitors each and every day.

Learn more about Chester and his amazing rescue story on your next visit to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Written by Karen Glanzberg, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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