Scientists concerned about endangered orca still pushing body of her calf

Scientists concerned about endangered orca still pushing body of her calf

Scientists concerned about endangered orca still pushing body of her calf

Ken Balcomb with the Center for Whale Research said the southern resident orca J35 was spotted Thursday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the south shore of Vancouver Island.

Teams of whale experts are racing out to sea to help an ailing young killer whale spotted between the US and Canada.

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

Brad Hanson of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says hard conditions have prevented the teams from collecting breath and fecal samples but they are hoping weather conditions improve by Sunday.

Sheila Thornton, lead killer whale research scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said they'll often see the southern residents with poor body conditions at the start of the summer, but they improve over the season as they feed on chinook salmon.

J35 was spotted Wednesday carrying her dead calf, marking the 16th day of her "tour of grief".

"While very skinny and small, J50/Scarlet kept up well with her mother and siblings", NOAA stated on its website.

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. "That is very good news", he said.

"For close approaches, what we're needing to try to do is to match course and speed of the animals and then very slowly and cautiously move in so we don't disturb them", he said.

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If you'd like to be a part of the solution to saving these handsome whales, one easy step you can take is to reduce or completely do away with your personal consumption of seafood. If she eats the salmon, researchers will discuss delivering more medication through live fish.

USA 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.

"She appears to be in distress and may not be feeding successfully, so we are asking vessels continue to give her a wide berth", said DFO regional director Andrew Thomson.

The young whale is one of just 75 of the fish-eating orcas that frequent the inland waters of Washington state.

But the carcass, which Tahlequah has now carried for around 1,000 miles, is starting to deteriorate, and Giles said her mourning may soon come to an end.

Teams of whale experts raced out to sea Thursday to help an ailing young killer whale, but they don't plan to intervene to help a mother orca in the same critically endangered pod that has been pushing the body of her dead calf for more than two weeks.

They also face overlapping threats from toxic pollution and noise and disturbances from boats.

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.

The Puget Sound calf was the first in three years to be born to the dwindling population of endangered southern resident killer whales. She was seen carrying her dead calf on her head for hours.

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