Veterinarians ready for efforts to save ailing orca whale

Mindy Sparks
August 9, 2018

One of the great concerns for the whale is that it is part of the endangered southern-resident orcas that have declined to a population of only 75.

An aerial photograph of adult female Southern Resident killer whale J16 with her calf (J50) in 2015, when the calf was in its first year of life.

"What they're working on this determine which method they're going to use, [is] based on the dose that they have configured for her", Rowles told ABC News on Tuesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has mounted an emergency effort to administer medical care and food for J50 after worldwide attention focused last week on another member of the J Pod family, Tahlequah, seen carrying her dead calf around the Salish Sea for 10 days and hundreds of miles.

Paul Cottrell of Fisheries and Oceans Canada says a federal research team saw J50 Tuesday afternoon near Port Renfrew, B.C., but conditions were so foggy that they couldn't assess her condition.

The first step is to complete an assessment of the orca's health, he said. This will likely involve sampling J50's breath from a close range and collecting fecal samples.

If a cause can be identified, the veterinarians on board will be able to sign off on the next step-the injection of a long-acting broad-spectrum antibiotic either from a pole or a dart gun.

Rowles said that while the research boats are out in the water searching for Scarlet, they have to keep a distance at least 200 yards to make sure that they don't further stress the sick, young whale or other whales. What would be unique is giving the orca medication through live fish, she said.

While it's not uncommon for southern resident killer whales to go unsighted for days, researchers were racing the clock to find J-pod because of the young whale's poor health.

"Hopefully, they are doing well and foraging and doing what they need to do".

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.

Canadian officials have not received an application to administer antibiotics to the whale in Canadian waters, Cottell said, a procedure NOAA wants to try if J50 is in Washington waters.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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