World Media

Grieving orca still swimming with her dead calf in Northwest

Grieving orca still swimming with her dead calf in Northwest

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans said its researchers sighted the female killer whale J50, also known as Scarlet, swimming with her mother and the rest of their pod.

Scientists in Canada and the US have been working together to save her life.

Milstein said it was good to see the whale alive because she hadn't been sighted since Friday, sparking concern that she may have succumbed to her condition.

J50 and her brother in 2014.

The race to save J50, a female with the potential to reproduce, is considered crucial for the endangered southern resident killer whale population that stands at just 75 whales.

On Tuesday, the whales were spotted in rough waters off Port Renfrew.

"It was foggy up there for most of the day", Cottrell said. Then the whales disappeared back into the fog.

Cottrell couldn't say when the Canadian approvals would be in place, but said the process involves reviewing the proposal against the Species at Risk Act, consulting experts and considering regulations against feeding killer whales that were put in place to prevent habituation to humans. This involves collecting breath and stool samples and observing her behaviour.

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Another possibility is administering a long-acting antibiotic with a pole injection system if they're able to get close enough to the orca.

If that goes well, scientists will test the feeding plan by first dropping salmon without medication between 50 and 100 metres in front of J50's path to see if she or other pod members will eat them.

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.

An emaciated three-year-old orca that has become the focus of a cross-border rescue effort was spotted in US waters Wednesday afternoon.

Whale experts have been increasingly anxious about J50 after a researcher last month noticed an odor on the orca's breath, a smell detected on other orcas that later died. Researchers cite a shortage of chinook salmon as one of the main reasons for the orcas' decline.

She said it became evident that "we needed to intervene to determine potentially what was the cause and whether there was anything we could do to assist her".

American and Canadian scientists are considering a Hail Mary effort to save an endangered four-year-old killer whale, known as J50, which appears emaciated, lethargic and has lost about 20 per cent of its body weight.

The 4-year-old was part of the southern resident "baby boom" that occurred when eleven calves were born between 2014-2016.


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