Endangered orca that sparked international rescue plan spotted in B.C. waters
11 Agosto, 2018, 04:40 | Author: Enrique Watson
"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.
"There hasn't been an application by experts to [do] this in Canadian waters - the where, when, how", said Paul Cottell, marine mammal coordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
J50 is one of only 75 remaining southern resident killer whales that are found in coastal waters from B.C.to California. As a young female, J50 holds particularly high value because of her future reproductive capacity.
Canadian and USA scientists are particularly anxious to save J50, a juvenile female that has the potential to reproduce and assist with the population's recovery.
J-pod recently drew an global spotlight when another orca, J35, was spotted pushing the body of her dead calf through the water for more than a week. J50 was with her mother, J16, and the rest of the pod.
Rowles said such imagery has shed more light on the whales' overall body condition and growth over time.
Barre said multiple boat teams were on standby Monday to be in the position to collect breath droplets and feces from J50, which could provide better diagnostic information for why this orca is in markedly worse condition and malnourished compared to her relatives.
Michael Milstein, a spokesman with NOAA Fisheries, says researchers on Wednesday spotted the 20-year-old whale known as J35 carrying her dead young off the tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
Feeding J50 by bringing her live chinook salmon caught by the Lummi Nation could begin as soon as Thursday.
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. "We are hopeful that there's still a chance that we will be able to assist her with medical treatment and give her enough time to get nourishment and treat infections, if indeed that is what is causing her decline", Rowles said. "They could initially hear the whales through hydrophones and then they located them".
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.
"We do need to be very cognizant of what the effects of the treatment on J50 would be or what the potential adverse affects on her family members would be", she said. She was the first orca to be rescued, rehabilitated and successfully released back into the wild.
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