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Lucas Nielsen

on 21 February 2018

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Transcript of Chester

Chester the
False Killer Whale

What else we do know:
False Killer Whales live in pods of up to 100 in the southern & tropical oceans. It is extremely rare that they would come into our northern waters. I actually saw a pod near our boat when I was in Mexico a few years ago. Pods of them are often seen hanging out with bottle nose & other dolphins types. It is unknown why, but whole pods sometimes beach themselves. Even when they are rescued they often go and beach themselves again. The following pictures were in Australia, where there are groups trained to respond to a beaching & go to refloat these mammals.

About False Killer Whales
The Rescue:
by Lucas Nielsen
To save & rehabilitate him took many thousands of hours of loving effort. Chester was so weak that there had to be people in the rehabilitation tank with him 24 hours a day for 4 months in the cold water. He had to be tube fed for a long time before he could even suck on a bottle. He was the only baby False Killer Whale in the world ever to have survived a rescue from a stranding. There were dozens of staff & volunteers who worked to save him over the next many months. Everyone became very attached to him & he become like family to everyone.
The False Killer Whale
pseudorca crassidens
(which means false orca thick tooth) was named by a scientist who found a skull on a beach & noticed it was very similar to an orca skull, but different. It is actually a dolphin (orcas are dolphins too) which can be a bit confusing. I think they should be named something else. Maybe something like Amicus Delphinus (friendly dolphin). They are a "data deficient" species as there is not much known about them. We do know some things though. We know that they eat fish & other marine mammals, they grow 15-20 feet (4-6m), weigh up to 1,500 lbs (700 kg) & can live for 50-60 years.
He was very weak & they had to hold him for many hours to keep him from drowning in the surf before the Marine Mammal Rescue Organization got there many hours later. MMR is part of the Vancouver Aquarium. The creature was discovered to be a baby False Killer Whale. MMR brought him back to the Vancouver rehabilitation facility.
Chester was a False Killer Whale at the Vancouver Aquarium. We met him the week he was introduced to the habitat he shared with a Pacific White Sided Dolphin named Helen. I was fascinated by his story & went to visit him often. We developed a friendship and I decided to do a school project on him. I have shared this story with over 1.500 kids...
There have been a few known cases of aquarium Dolphins & False Killer Whales mating, & the offspring are called Wholphins. Pretty funny.
Because of the hard work & dedication of the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, & the love of all those at the Aquarium & MMR, my friend Chester had a second chance at life & is a great reminder why we need to take care of the animals in our oceans. I am very grateful to have got to know him & am very thankful for such a great experience. I miss my friend but I am a changed person from what he taught me.
Media Attention
The story of my friendship with Chester attracted quite a bit of attention from the media. I was interviewed many times for tv, radio & newspaper. Here are a couple stories done by CBC & CTV. The reporters thought it was strange that we would be friends, but I thought it was normal. Chester was smart like a big dog so of course he would recognize faces of people he saw regularly.
The best thing that happened next was our trip to Tofino. Tourism Tofino heard about the media attention and invited us to see where Chester was rescued and to meet his rescuers. Tourism Tofino treated us like royalty. Meeting the rescuers was a highlight of our whole experience. This was very very special.
Before After
Chester lived to be 3 1/2 years old & loved people. He taught us a lot. He learned behaviors from his trainers quickly. All behaviours taught by the people who worked with him were for his health & for our education. He knew how to show parts of his body & mouth for checkups, & to go where the trainers told him to. He was fast, very active & learned acrobatics from Helen. He had a habit of breaching (leaping) out of the water for fun & attention during the sea lion presentation in the next tank, which was quite disruptive as everyone ran away from the Sea Lions to see what the big splash was. I learned so much about Chester & Helen from the trainers & show interpreters. Every show is different, informative & entertaining.
On July 10, 2014 some people walking along North Chesterman's Beach in Tofino, BC, came across a stranded animal washed ashore. The first authorities to respond were from Dept of Fisheries & Oceans, & Parks Canada. They first thought he was a porpoise & tried to push him back into deeper waters but he kept washing back to shore. When they noticed he had no teeth they realized he was a baby but not sure what kind of animal.
It has been a great experience knowing Chester, & I have shared his story with over 1,500 school age kids around BC & as far away as New Zealand. We were also very lucky to talk to FKW expert in NZ Jochen Zaeschmar.
You can learn more about these amazing animals by watching the new BBC Blue Planet & visiting:
This Presentation is a beautiful story but has a sad ending. My friend Chester is no longer with us. He died from a bacterial infection very common to cetations. He was lucky to have been rescued as it gave him a chance to live 3 1/2 years longer than he would have. His rescue story is amazing, & how he reached out to people made him a wonderful ambassador to the oceans. I have learned so much about the oceans and really care about the delicate state of them because of Chester.
There are some people who think it is terrible that Chester lived in a tank, & think he should have been put down on the beach where he was found rather than being rescued. They say he was unhappy. I spent a lot of time with Chester & think he was very happy to be alive. Here are some videos of Chester in his aquarium habitat.
Chester enjoyed his life:
These were the impacts made by Chester:
-He taught scientists about young False Killer Whales, as he was the only rescued baby ever to survive a stranding;
-He Amazed everyone with his silly antics & how quickly he learned & adapted. Many people who didn't know the species existed now care & are interested in them;
(False Killer Whales are featured in the new Blue Planet)
-He Engaged with his trainers & the public (mainly children). Everyone who met him fell in love with him;
-He Inspired people to care more about the creatures in the ocean so that we make choices that protect our oceans rather than harm them.

He was a great ambassador for the oceans.
Gifts from Chester:
Full transcript