Team Gives Medication To Sick Killer Whale At Sea

Pat Wise
August 13, 2018

They spotted J35 while searching for another of the remaining 75 southern resident killer whales, labelled an endangered species in both Canada and the United States.

"It is very possible that she has succumbed at this point and that we may never see her again", Teri Rowles, marine mammal health and stranding coordinator for National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, told journalists during a press phone briefing Tuesday. The whale could then be given live salmon dosed with medication.

With the whale not close by, crews did a practice run for the feeding, sending salmon through a turquoise tube off the back of a boat.

A team set out Thursday and found the young whale alone, said Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian Martin Haulena on a conference call with reporters Friday.

Dr Hanson said she looked thin and "clearly emaciated" when he and others observed from a boat Saturday near San Juan Island while collecting the whale's breath samples. It wasn't clear whether she had been eating.

'You could see the shape of her skull through her blubber, ' said Dr Giles.

Haulena said they watched J50 rejoin her group on Thursday. Ken Balcomb with the Center for Whale Research told The Seattle Times J35 has carried the carcass of her calf more approximately 1,000 miles or more.

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Unsurprisingly, given their neuroanatomy, orcas live in tight-knit matrilineal pods that are led by mothers, aunties and grandmothers - female orcas have the longest post-menopausal life span of any animal we know of besides humans.

"That's what this is really all about".

"The big question is, can we craft public policy that can make a difference in the future of the orca, and by doing so make a positive difference in how we live in Puget Sound", Purce said in an interview Monday.

They face nutritional stress over a lack of their preferred food source, Chinook salmon, as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances that disrupt their ability to communicate and forage.

Another female orca in the same pod has triggered an worldwide outpouring as she clings to the body of her calf that died more than two weeks ago. Scientists are anxious about her and will watch her but don't have plans to help her or remove the calf. She was last seen Thursday still carrying the body. Tahlequah is not carrying that calf's body all by herself - members of her family have been helping her with her vigil.

Researchers take breath samples of the orca known as J50 on July 21, 2018.

A team of whale experts has injected an ailing killer whale with antibiotics in a rare emergency effort to save her. The salmon-feeding plan is still under review. Biologists are ready to feed the malnourished whales fresh salmon and give the sick female antibiotics to treat an infection, but first they have to find them. The poor health of J50 concerned fish and wildlife experts so much that they intervened in Canadian waters.

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