Team Gives Medication To Sick Killer Whale At Sea

Katy Foster  NOAA Fisheries

The 3-year-old orca's condition is so poor, she may not survive and is running out of time, scientists said.

The whale known as J35 was spotted in coastal waters near the border between British Columbia and Washington state Wednesday with the carcass of her calf that was born and died on July 24.

Ken Balcomb with the Center for Whale Research said the southern resident orca J35 was spotted Thursday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the south shore of Vancouver Island.

Scientists are reporting progress in the race to help an emaciated and endangered West Coast killer whale in the waters of the Salish Sea.

As National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA) spokesman Michael Milstein reportedly stated, "Everything is on the table".

This is likely due to a sharp decline in the killer whales' main food source - the Chinook salmon - as well as contamination of the waters that they live in. "Is that not only is she not improving, it looks like she's deteriorating over the period of time when we would expect to see the condition improve". NOAA would apply for the feeding permit if conditions are right, said Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries' recovery coordinator for the whales.

"For close approaches, what we're needing to try to do is to match course and speed of the animals and then very slowly and cautiously move in so we don't disturb them", he said.

"This is a novel undertaking", Mr Hanson said.

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But they don't plan to intervene to help a mother orca in the same critically endangered pod that also has them anxious. The orca would initially get just a few fish to see whether she takes it and how she and members of her pod respond before deciding whether to give her salmon dosed with medication, officials have said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced late Thursday that response teams spotted J50, also known as Scarlet, and the rest of her pod of southern resident killer whales in Canadian waters and followed them into the USA near San Juan Island. "I'm not even sure we would be successful".

They also face overlapping threats from toxic pollution and noise and disturbances from boats.

"Even if her family is foraging for and sharing fish with her, J35 can not be getting the. nutrition she needs to regain any body-mass loss that would have naturally occurred during the gestation of her fetus and also additional loss of nutrition during these weeks of mourning", she said.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a video statement on Facebook detailing what his office is doing to protect the orca population in the waters around the state.

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Ms Giles said. It returned to its family of whales in Canada later that year and in 2013 was seen with its new calf.

The last time scientists rescued a killer whale in the region was in 2002, when they rehabilitated an orca known as Springer who was found alone.

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