Monday, 20 August, 2018

Ailing young orca J-50 gets novel medical treatment at sea

Scarlet is among a group of endangered rapidly dwindling Southern Resident killer whales that frequent the Pacific Northwest Scarlet is among a group of endangered rapidly dwindling Southern Resident killer whales that frequent the Pacific Northwest
Anna Jefferson | 12 August, 2018, 04:42

Teams of whale experts on Thursday were racing out to sea to help an ailing young killer whale, but they don't plan to intervene to help a mother orca in the same critically endangered pod that has been pushing the body of its dead calf for more than two weeks.

Another female in the group, a 3½-year-old whale named J50, has also been in peril, and government officials are preparing an emergency plan to save her from starving to death.

"This is something that has struck hearts all over the world", Inslee said. "So that first meeting with this incredibly skinny little whale that was by herself was quiet worrisome".

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Fisheries says the worldwide team reached 3½-year-old orca known as J50 on Thursday in the waters near Washington State's San Juan Island.

"A female killer whale ... could probably fast for about four weeks before it gets into a detrimental state", Noren said.

An worldwide team of experts has been waiting for an opportunity to get close to the female killer whale so they can carry out an emergency plan that includes giving it antibiotics or feeding it live salmon at sea.

The behaviour often involved one or more individuals attending to the deceased. In addition, she has a depression on the back of her head which is indicative of a condition called "peanut head", a syndrome which has reportedly killed 11 of the 13 orcas researchers have found with it.

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Effort may also be made to collect a sample of her breath using a petri dish on a pole. "She was diving for prolonged periods of time, then would come up for a breath, and do it again several times in a row. But it is it very, very, real", she said.

While the other whales were actively foraging for food, Haulena said they couldn't tell if she had been eating. "It's very hard to say, but certainly they're very intelligent animals and the loss of this animal is quite profound for both the (killer whales) and I think for everyone who witnesses this". "The injection went in and did not deliver the full dosage". "We are hopeful that there's still a chance that we will be able to assist her with medical treatment to give her enough time to get nourishment and treat infections, if indeed that is what is causing her decline".

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

Still, most hope she'll drop her dead calf soon just to avoid undue stress.

"We've seen mother whales carry dead babies briefly, for parts of a day".

A grieving orca whose calf died last month just minutes after it was born was seen this week still carrying the tiny whale's body around the Pacific Northwest, more than 17 days later.

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.

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