Grieving Orca Mother Still Carrying Her Dead Calf. It's Been 16 Days

An adult female Southern Resident killer whale with her calf in Pacific Northwest waters

Another female orca in the same pod has triggered an global outpouring as she clings to the body of her dead calf that died two weeks ago. Now, yet another member of the highly endangered population of Southern Resident killer whales - a four-year-old female known by researchers as J50 - is seriously at risk of dying.

The team of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration biologists and vets was also able to take blow samples from J50 exhaling.

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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a permit for such efforts in US waters.

The tweet says the next step is to decide if trial feeding of J50 should proceed, although it says that will depend on the location of the pod, as well as water and weather conditions. NOAA would apply for the feeding permit if conditions are right, said Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries' recovery coordinator for the whales.

"Vancouver Aquarium's veterinarian and the team conducted a visual assessment, obtained a breath sample that will help assess any infection, and administered antibiotics through a dart". "That is very good news", he said.

"We have obvious concerns about the displacement of her behavior away from foraging and feeding, to carrying the calf, and concerns over the length of time of this behavior as it continues, and the possibility of decreasing her ability to forage effectively", Thornton said.

"This is a novel undertaking", Hanson said.

An worldwide team of experts is waiting to get close to the 3½-year-old killer whale known as J50 so they can carry out a step-by-step emergency plan that includes giving her antibiotics or feeding live salmon at sea. By doing so, you will help ensure that there are plenty of fish in the sea for the animals who actually need to eat these aquatic creatures to survive (unlike us).

The group will prioritize short-term and long-term actions, many of which are certain to focus on recovering the prized salmon that the fish-eating whales like to eat.

NOAA Fisheries and partner organizations are exploring options ranging from no intervention to providing medical treatment, potentially delivered inside a live Chinook salmon - which would then be fed to Scarlet.

By the time the whale entered her third day of mourning, Dr Balcomb, said he had never observed a whale mourn for such a long time.

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

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

The last time scientists rescued a killer whale in the region was in 2002 when a northern resident killer whale known as Springer was found swimming alone in Puget Sound.

United States 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.

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