Scientists concerned about endangered orca still pushing body of her calf

Katy Foster  NOAA Fisheries

Ms Giles said even if the orca's family is foraging for and sharing fish with her, she can't be getting the nutrition she needs to regain any body-mass loss that would have naturally occurred during the gestation of her foetus "and also additional loss of nutrition during these weeks of mourning".

Thornton said a Fisheries and Oceans Canada team did encounter J35 off of the southern tip of Vancouver Island on Thursday and she was still pushing the body of the calf, which was born and died July 24.

Scientists are also anxious about another member of the endangered orcas.

It's made up of three pods, all of which have been listed as endangered in both the USA and Canada.

Another female orca from the group that spends time in U.S. Northwest waters attracted global attention as the grieving animal tried to keep her dead baby afloat.

As National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (NOAA) spokesman Michael Milstein reportedly stated, "Everything is on the table".

For now, the unprecedented attempt to feed live salmon to a free-swimming killer whale would have to wait.

J35 was spotted Wednesday carrying her dead calf, marking the 16th day of her "tour of grief". NOAA officials say her condition is being monitored. 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.

Veterinarians in the field will decide whether to give the ailing orca antibiotics, which would last between 10 and 14 days, using either a dart injector or a long pole syringe. "But it is it very, very, real", she said.

"Removing the calf would be a very, very hard decision, and obviously we would have to take many factors into consideration, so that's now not on the table", she said.

"This is a novel undertaking", Hanson said.

But they don't plan to intervene to help a mother orca in the same critically endangered pod that also has them anxious.

He said a different needle could have been used to allow it to deliver the entire dose, but he didn't want the animal to have the needle remain with her for a few days or longer before it fell off.

USA 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 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 US near San Juan Island.

They face nutritional stress over a lack of their preferred food source, Chinook salmon, as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances that disrupt their ability to communicate and forage. She was fed live salmon in the pen.

The orca was last seen off the coast of Washington on Wednesday.



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