Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Canada’s DFO crews spot orca, ailing but still alive off Vancouver Island

Canada’s DFO crews spot orca, ailing but still alive off Vancouver Island

Michael Milstein, a spokesman with NOAA Fisheries, said researchers on Wednesday saw the 20-year-old whale known as J35 carrying her dead young off the tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

"This is unprecedented in terms of what is occurring and some of the methodologies haven't been done on killer whales and it's an endangered population", Cottell said.

Teri Rowles of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that if they find J50 before she dies they'll assess her health and determine if they will administer antibiotics by pole or by dart, and she may receive further treatment of salmon laced with medication.

Scarlet is among a group of endangered, rapidly dwindling Southern Resident killer whales that frequent the Pacific Northwest.

There are now only 75 southern resident killer whales that live in the waters along the USA west coast from Alaska to California, according to Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research. The ailing orca was swimming with her mom Wednesday. Rather than producing their average six to nine offspring per year, the group of 75 has not produced any offspring in the last three years. Only five of the calves from the "baby boom" remain.

The search is on again for J50, the ailing killer whale, in a cross-border effort to save her life. The plan calls for live salmon provided by the Lummi Nation. "We're hoping she's going to make it".

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Experts are preparing rare emergency efforts to administer antibiotics or feed live salmon to try to save a young emaciated orca that's part of a critically endangered pod of killer whales.

Part of the challenge of using the pole would be that marine mammal experts would have to be in very close proximity to the animal. Rowles said that the salmon they are providing are not meant to satisfy the orca's nutritional needs and was adamant that this will not become a standard practice.

Rowles said injections of antibiotics or sedatives have been given to other free-swimming whales or dolphins that were injured or entangled but it hasn't been done for free-swimming whales in this area.

Earlier Tuesday, federal officials had said they received legal permission to move forward with the treatment J50.

"The fish would be distributed into the water in front of her", she said.

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