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From Stranding to Thriving: The Remarkable Tale of a Rescued Killer Whale



Quick Smiles:

  • Queensland National Parks reported a sighting of a rescued killer whale, EA_0046A, thriving and close to maturity ten years after a mass stranding event.
  • The successful rescue operation in 2013 refloated five stranded killer whales, who later rejoined their pod and migrated into open waters.
  • Despite the tragedy, the event led to valuable scientific contributions as the deceased whales became the first killer whale specimens for Queensland Museum.

Imagine being part of a successful rescue operation of a stranded killer whale calf, only to discover a decade later that your efforts weren’t in vain.

Well, that’s exactly what’s happened for the Queensland National Parks in Australia, and the happy news is spreading like a wave!

In a recent Facebook post, Queensland National Parks confirmed sightings of a killer whale, known as EA_0046A, that had been rescued as a calf during a mass stranding event a decade ago.

Now, it’s spotted thriving and close to maturity, swimming with its family in New South Wales.

David Donnelly, the manager of Killer Whales Australia, announced the joyous discovery: “Today I can confirm that we have further re-sights of some of the animals that were rescued during that long operation, with sighting locations including Ballina, Port Macquarie, and Gold Coast.”

The killer whale EA_0046A was one of seven stranded in the Great Sandy Marine Park in 2013, a rare and challenging event that received international attention.

“7 killer whales (Orcinus orca) stranded in the Great Sandy Marine Park—arguably the most iconic mass marine mammal stranding event in Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) history,” Queensland National Parks recalled in an earlier post.


Sadly, two of the whales died before being discovered. However, the remaining five—including EA_0046A—were successfully refloated on the rising tide and eventually moved out into open waters.

Alan Dyball, QPWS Manager, reflected on the remarkable survival story: “We can proudly say, EA_0046A is now 10 years older, living-on as the next generation within its family. To have seen this calf stranded on the day, to now know it is alive and well 10 years later is very satisfying.”

Even in the face of the tragedy, the rescue operation proved invaluable.

“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rescue efforts in re-floating the killer whales that could be saved during the 2013 stranding have proven to be worth every moment spent,” said Donnelly.

And from the shadows of loss, science gleaned a new understanding.

The deceased whales allowed Queensland Museum to acquire its first killer whale specimens, preserving a part of Queensland’s biodiversity record and creating an educational opportunity for visitors.