Grieving orca still swimming with her dead calf in Northwest

Grieving orca still swimming with her dead calf in Northwest

Scientists on both sides of the border say the southern resident killer whale, identified as J-50, may only have days to live and veterinarians are prepared to administer experimental antibiotics in American waters. She is underweight and lethargic with periods of inactivity, and does not appear to be feeding.

An endangered killer whale that has prompted an worldwide rescue effort won't receive antibiotics by dart or by fish if it's found in Canadian water.

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.

J Pod was seen off the south end of Vancouver Island by Canada's Fisheries and Oceans personnel late Tuesday.

"We want to separate the antibiotic treatment from the fish feeding effort because we do not want her to associate with the fish feeding that she's going to get a shot", Rowles said.

Rowles said such imagery has shed more light on the whales' overall body condition and growth over time. "We are monitoring and will continue to monitor".

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"It's a great relief that she's still alive", said Paul Cottrell, marine mammals co-ordinator with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. "We need to be very cognizant of what the effects of the treatment of J50 would be, or adverse effect on her or her family members would be". In a remarkable demonstration of maternal affection viewed around the world, 30-year-old Tahlequah, went into mourning, sometimes carrying the dead baby calf on her back for hundreds of miles over the course of at least 10 days.

Whale experts have been increasingly anxious about J50 after a researcher last month noticed an odor on the orca's breath, a smell detected on other orcas that later died. Not wanting to let its body sink to the ocean floor, she nudged it toward the surface as she made her way through the Pacific, off the coast of Canada and the northwestern US.

But the race is still on as scientists try to get close to J50 and administer antibiotics, because the young while is believed to be starving and possibly suffering from infection. And man-made contraptions, like hydroelectric power sources, block their path to release eggs.

But getting the tests done has been delayed because of weather and fog in the Port Renfrew area near where the emaciated endangered orca was seen on Tuesday afternoon. It takes a calf a little under a year and a half to fully develop in the womb, and they nurse for another year. Rather than producing their average six to nine offspring per year, the group of 75 has not produced any offspring in the last three years.

"Extinction is looming", Center for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb told CNN.

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