Emaciated orca receives antibiotics at crucial time

Emaciated orca receives antibiotics at crucial time

Emaciated orca receives antibiotics at crucial time

An endangered orca was spotted Wednesday still clinging to her dead and decomposing calf, more than two weeks after her newborn died in what scientists have said is an "unprecedented" showing of grief.

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. "But this sets a record", Centre for Whale Research senior scientist Ken Balcomb told the BBC.

The distinctive black-and-white orcas have struggled since they were listed as an endangered species in the USA and Canada over a decade ago.

The U.S. and Canada have no plans to remove J50 from her pod in order to feed or medicate her, as that would likely cause too much stress to J50 and her pod.

"The team obtained a breath sample to help assess infection & and gave antibiotics".

If things go well, she said, the team could move ahead with feeding the orca live salmon from a boat. Scientists had no plans to take the calf away from J35 or her pod, noting the "tight bond, "reports The Seattle Times".

Michael Milstein, a spokesman with NOAA Fisheries, told KIRO that researchers with Fisheries and Ocean Canada also spotted another member of the same pod on Wednesday.

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"Having not laid eyes on her personally before, it was dramatic how thin she is", said Dr. Marty Haulena, the Vancouver Aquarium's head veterinarian.

The idea of removing the calf from her mother is "not on the table", according to Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with NOAA.

"This is a novel undertaking", Hanson said. Scientists are anxious about her and will watch her but don't have plans to help her 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. "It's very hard to say, but certainly they're very intelligent animals and the loss of this animal is quite profound for both the (killer whales) and I think for everyone who witnesses this".

The fish-eating orcas that frequent the inland waters of Washington state are down to 75 animals, and there has not been a successful birth since 2015.

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. By the time biologists from the Center for Whale Research arrived at her side, the calf was dead.

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. It was fed live salmon in the pen.

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Ms Giles said.

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