Endangered orca that sparked international rescue plan spotted in BC waters

Endangered orca that sparked international rescue plan spotted in BC waters

"It hasn't been done before so we'll have to quickly licence that and put in place".

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.

Cottrell, who was on the water with the marine mammal crew in Sooke, said he was texting with the Port Renfrew crew and didn't have any details on J50's condition.

"So when we undertake interventions, we will quite likely disturb not just J50, but other animals around J50", said Sheila Thornton, a scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

She is one of only 75 remaining southern resident killer whales that are found in coastal waters from British Columbia to California.

The plight of the iconic orcas is bound to bring heightened attention to a previously scheduled meeting of the state's Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force in Wenatchee Tuesday.

Female orcas have had problems during pregnancy because of nutritional stress, and numerous calves who have been born in recent years have since died.

An emaciated three-year-old orca that has become the focus of a cross-border rescue effort was spotted in US waters Wednesday afternoon.

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"We would be ideally approaching her when she is separated from her pod members, which is not unusual for her", said NOAA Regional Stranding coordinator Kristin Wilkinson.

Researchers believe the whale is starving, and possibly suffering from some kind of infection.

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

"If it's determined that antibiotics would be useful, then antibiotics through injection is going to be our best course rather than antibiotics through food, because we recognize that we won't able to treat her every day", Rowles said.

They'll decide then whether to administer antibiotics using a dart injector or a long pole syringe.

An adult female, J35, was also with the pod, still carrying her dead calf more than two weeks after the newborn died on July 24. They may drop medicated fish next, if that goes smoothly.

NOAA's recovery coordinator for the southern resident orcas, Lynne Barre, says Lummi fishers will provide live Chinook salmon for feeding and administering oral medication. King County has lent its new research boat, the "SoundGuardian", to the cause, according to county Executive Dow Constantine's office.

J-50 is almost four years old and part of the critically endangered southern residents, a population of killer whales with only about 75 individuals. The ailing orca was swimming with her mom Wednesday. She was the first orca to be rescued, rehabilitated and successfully released back into the wild.