U.S., Canadian researchers consider capturing ailing orca J50

Southern resident killer whale, who swims along B.C. coast, has been focus since August

A rescue operation involving “hands-on physical examination” may be the next step to help an young, emaciated southern resident killer whale swimming around B.C. waters.

On Wednesday, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said capturing J50, a four-year-old orca suffering from starvation, would only be an option if it didn’t harm other whales in J Pod and is the only option to allow her to contribute to the recovery of the population.

“The overriding priority of rescue is to evaluate, treat and rehabilitate J50 to give her the greatest chance of survival while ensuring her return and reunification with her family as soon as possible,” the agency said.

WATCH: Ailing orca J50 gets 2nd dart of antibiotics by B.C. vet

U.S. and Canadian researchers have been tracking the mammal for weeks, trying to find ways to treat her. Scientists confirmed last week through fecal samples that she is suffering from parasitic worms. J50 also has “peanut-head syndrome,” in which her head is smaller than her body as a result of malnutrition. She has been given antibiotics twice using darts and was last spotted Friday.

WATCH: Conservation groups sue Ottawa to protect endangered killer whales

NOAA’s Lynne Barre said that despite efforts, J50’s health has been deteriorating. Marine biologists are looking to give her deworming medication as soon as they can, but results so far are less-than positive.

“Based on her current condition, and we are really concerned about her ability to survive,” she said.

Next steps could also include rapid treatment and return to the sea, or short-term care and rehab to improve her chances of survival, officials said, adding she would be returned back to the ocean once well enough.

“Remaining in captivity permanently does not meet out our objective and is an outcome that we very much intend to avoid,” said Chris Yates, NOAA assistant regional administrator.

Rescuing J50 would only happen if she became stranded or separated from her pod, which includes her mother.

These next steps won’t be taken before consultation with the public, the agency said. Two public meetings will be hosted this week in Washington State.

The response by officials in helping the ailing orca have been met with some criticism by conservationists. Seven conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the Canadian government last week, calling for more protection over endangered orcas along the coastline.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

East Kootenay mine deaths prompt safety initiatives

Teck produces educational video, introduces new procedures after contractor drowns at Fording River

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Most Read