Team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

Team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

According to a 2012 study, a male killer whale over the age of 30 is three times more likely to die within a year after his mother's death.

NOAA and Fisheries and Oceans Canada hope to gather samples and administer antibiotics to the sick and starving orca. Yet still she clings to the body of her baby.

Scientists on both sides of the border have become increasingly concerned about J50's emaciated state in recent weeks and fear she could die, dealing yet another blow to the declining population of 75 southern resident killer whales.

DFO researchers have spotted J50 and her mother, J16, in recent days off the west coast of Vancouver Island and in USA waters off the Olympic Peninsula northwest of Neah Bay, Washington.

"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.

"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. "So we basically have to get within five metres of the whale", Hanson said.

Dawn Noren, a research biologist at NOAA, said that it's possible the orca - named J35 - has podmates who've been foraging for her and giving her food.

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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Researchers took breath samples, and a drone flown above the whales Wednesday showed that J50 is much skinnier and her body condition has gotten worse.

"This is something that has struck hearts all over the world", Inslee said.

The carcass is "surprisingly intact", she said.

The task force is considering a range of efforts, from increasing hatchery production of salmon, training more private boats to help respond to oil spills, and prioritizing areas where important habitat can be restored.

They also face overlapping threats from toxic pollution and noise and disturbances from boats. A report is due later this year.

Tahlequah, the 20-year-old mother orca, is also known as J35, and researchers fear she could be in danger. However, Hanson said, conditions have to be just right to do so.

The group will prioritize short-term and long-term actions, many of which are certain to focus on recovering the prized salmon that the fish-eating whales like to eat.

Others are pushing to tear down four dams on the lower Snake River.

Initial actions being discussed include ramping up hatchery production, restricting fishing in areas that are important to the orcas, offering financial compensation to recreational and commercial fishermen to stop or reduce fishing in certain areas and killing sea lions or birds that eat certain runs.

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