Nanaimo’s now-famous “bagged Orcas” will stay on Hammond Bay Road for at least the next month, while the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans decides where they will be repopulated.

The Orcas were removed from Departure Bay in May because of concerns over nearby BC Ferries traffic. Because they were unable to return to the Pacific Ocean at that time, and Nanaimo community pools were booked by seniors’ swim clubs, the whales were placed in large plastic bags.

“The whales are fine there,” said fisheries officer George Marbi. “Honestly, there’s so much plastic in the ocean now anyway, they really don’t notice the difference.”

The bagged whales’ presence in an alley just off Hammond Bay Road became something of a tourist attraction this summer, with visitors from around the world coming to poke the bags and make “squished fishy fish” faces at the orcas.

The Orcas are so popular, in fact, Nanaimo council is petitioning the fisheries ministry to let them stay bagged indefinitely. “This could be a whole new revenue stream for tourism,” explained Nanaimo mayor Leonard Krog, who used his superior muscle mass to personally lift three of the orcas into their new bagged home.

But not everyone is thrilled with the orcas’ current plastic containers. A group of environmental activists are lobbying the federal government to replace the plastic bags with paper bags, saying the paper is less harmful to the environment.

A spokesperson for the Smurf Nations was not available for comment.