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

"She has been thin for a while, so this may not be an acute illness, but her body condition is incredibly concerning".

A mother orca was spotted today still carrying her dead calf for the 16th straight day after the infant was born off the Canada coast near Victoria, British Columbia and died shortly afterwards.

Scientists are also anxious about another member of the endangered orcas.

Scientists and researchers are in a race against time, struggling to save an ailing 3-year-old killer whale named Scarlet which has gone missing.

The Latest on the plan to save a young emaciated orca.

Brad Hanson of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says hard conditions have prevented the teams from collecting breath and fecal samples but they are hoping weather conditions improve by Sunday.

Fearing that J50's fate will be the same if they don't intervene, scientists are considering multiple strategies created to save the starving whale, including feeding her live salmon dosed with medication at sea. Researchers spotted the 20-year-old whale and the calf off of Washington's Olympic Peninsula on Wednesday, the station says.

"All we have to go by is her physical condition and her decline in physical condition", Rowles said.


Milstein said that veterinarian Marty Haulena from the Vancouver Aquarium got a thorough look at J50 and the team obtained a breath sample that will help assess any infection.

"It is very possible that she has succumbed at this point and that we may never see her again", Rowles told reporters Tuesday.

"Our decision will be based on science and we will act quickly with our partners when conditions permit, to take appropriate action", the ministry said in a statement.

USA and Canadian scientists said they were concerned about the mother's condition and would keep monitoring it but have no immediate plans to help it or remove the calf. We know they're capable of emotions like grief because the parts of their brains that do social and emotional work are big and elaborate, and they even contain specialized empathy cells called von Economo neurons, which help highly social animals like primates, elephants and whales achieve the extreme levels of cooperation that's required of them.

The whales face nutritional stress over a lack of Chinook salmon as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances. The orca would initially get just a few fish to see whether she takes it and how she and members of her pod respond before deciding whether to give her salmon dosed with medication, officials have said.

"This is a novel undertaking", Hanson said. It was fed live salmon in the pen.

The last time scientists rescued a killer whale in the region was in 2002 when a northern resident killer whale known as Springer was found swimming alone in Puget Sound. She was last seen off the northwest tip of Washington state.

"The fish would be distributed into the water in front of her", she said.


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