Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Worldwide team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

Worldwide team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

When conditions were right, the team of American and Canadian biologists and vets didn't hesitate.

"This is a novel undertaking", Hanson said.

"This type of grief in people often goes underground, it's, 'It's just a dog, an animal, move on.' People go underground with these feelings, they are delegitimized".

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Q13FOX the department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada spotted the whale known as J35 carrying the calf near the tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

Those samples have been sent for analysis, specifically for harmful bacteria and fungi from the airway. "So we've been standing by here, hoping that the southern residents will come back in".

"While we wait for the results, we are treating what is treatable", said Haulena. "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". However, the focus this week has been on J50, so no assessment of J35's condition has been done.

J50 was observed to be moving well, diving and moving from group to group, but he cautioned that other whales in similar condition to J50 have not survived. Because of how long she had been doing this, the pressing concerns if she's still eating or if she's been given food by other members of the pod are starting to heavily louden.

The recent images of the mother orca pushing her dead calf and trying to keep it afloat in Northwest waters has given greater urgency to the fate of the whales, said Les Purce, co-chair of the task force.

J50, the ailing 3 1/2-year-old orca, was seen along with her mother, J16.

"She was breathing very well; her respiratory rate was normal", he said. "Can we do it when she is a bit separated from the group?" We know she has something significant going on.

If the plan goes ahead, J50 would be given unmedicated fish to see if feeding is feasible and gauge her response.

Fisheries and Oceans officials say they are ready to act quickly if the response is to take place in Canadian waters.

"Obviously the connection [the pod] has formed with this calf is substantial and is something that we do have to take into account - what or how that might impact the whale from her behavioral state", Hanson said. "That will be to the benefit of this animal".

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced late Thursday that response teams spotted J50, also known as Scarlet, and the rest of her pod of southern resident killer whales in Canadian waters and followed them into the USA near San Juan Island.

J50 is one of just 75 remaining southern resident killer whales that swim the coastal waters between British Columbia and California, and the tweet describes her as "skinny and small", but keeping up with her mother and siblings.

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