Team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

An endangered orca is not letting go of her newborn calf, whose body she has been pushing through the water for more than two weeks.

The female orca known as J35 has been clinging to its calf since it died July 24, an image of grief that has struck an emotional chord worldwide.

Orca whales also do not have babies often or in large numbers, and when they do, it is a long process.

"These are very intelligent animals, and the loss of this animal is quite profound for the matriline and everyone who witnesses it", said Sheila Thornton, lead killer-whale scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The Latest on the plan to save a young emaciated orca. The fact that we haven't seen any in several years and then to have reproductive failure is further evidence that we have a severe problem with the reproductive viability in the population, ' said Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

The agency said researchers will continue to monitor the whale and may, in future, try feeding her live chinook salmon laced with medication. Also spotted Wednesday was J35, the female orca whose mourning behavior has captivated the world. They are waiting for her to show up again in Washington state waters so they can zip out on a boat to do a health assessment, said Teri Rowles, marine mammal health and stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.

The Vancouver Aquarium's head veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, was on the vessel assessing and treating the whale, according to statements from the aquarium and NOAA.

'You could see the shape of her skull through her blubber, ' said Dr Giles.

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The earliest the weather is forecasted to clear up is Sunday, Hanson said, and the plan will be easier if the whales move closer to the coast.

US 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. Researchers with the Whale Sanctuary Project took a sample of the fish scales so they can later genetically track whether the whales consume that fish, while other crews with the Lummi tribe scooped the salmon out of a large bin and sent it into the water. "I'm not even sure we would be successful".

U.S. biologists are racing to find the underweight 3-year-old animal to administer antibiotics either through food or by injection, but she could be dead or in Canada.

A team of whale experts has injected an ailing killer whale with antibiotics in a rare effort to save her. She returned to her family of whales in Canada later that year and in 2013 was seen with her new calf.

It was hearing initial recommendations focused on three main threats to the orcas: lack of food, toxic contamination and boat noise and disturbance.

"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.

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.

  • Douglas Reid