Team Gives Medication To Sick Killer Whale At Sea

Monday, 13 Aug, 2018

The orca is thin and in poor body condition.

The female orca known as J35 has been clinging to its calf since it died July 24, an image of grief that has struck an emotional chord worldwide.

Sheila Thornton, lead killer whale research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said they are anxious that the time and energy she spends carrying the body could take away from foraging or feeding.

It's made up of three pods, all of which have been listed as endangered in both the USA and Canada.

Brad Hanson, of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), added: "It would be very challenging and perhaps not in the best interest of the animal to go in and remove the calf".

Researchers were also able to obtain a breath sample to further assess the 3-year-old orca's health and determine if the calf has an infection.

For now, the unprecedented attempt to feed live salmon to a free-swimming killer whale would have to wait. It was last spotted Wednesday. "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".

Michael Milstein, a spokesman with NOAA Fisheries, told KIRO that researchers with Fisheries and Ocean Canada also spotted another member of the same pod on Wednesday. "But it is it very, very, real", she said.

"Obviously the connection they've formed with this calf is substantial and it's something that we do have to take into account", he said.

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U.S. and Canadian scientists said they were concerned about the mother's condition and would keep monitoring her but have no plans to help her or remove the calf.

"We've been saying it for 20 years, the humans who have been studying these animals", Giles said, before noting that now "the animals themselves in the last three weeks, it's nearly like they've taken the torch".

The young whale is one of just 75 of the fish-eating orcas that frequent the inland waters of Washington state. "To us, she is still a critical whale", Haulena said.

A team of whale experts has injected an ailing killer whale with antibiotics in a rare emergency effort to save her.

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Ms Giles said.

NOAA Fisheries and partner organizations are exploring options ranging from no intervention to providing medical treatment, potentially delivered inside a live Chinook salmon - which would then be fed to Scarlet.

Experts at the Whale Museum on San Juan Island have been monitoring the whale since her calf died last month.

"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.

United States biologists are racing to find the underweight 3-year-old animal to administer antibiotics either through food or by injection, but she could be dead or in Canada.