Medication given to sick killer whale at sea to save her

John Durban  NOAA Fisheries FILE

As its body fell into the water, the mother hauled it to the surface and began carrying it in on her nose what some scientists call a mourning ritual.

In light of this, top veterinarians and whale experts are desperately working to come up with a way to restore this gentle giant's health as soon as possible. The NOAA response team treated J50 with a long-acting broad-spectrum antibiotic through a dart while they await results of the whale's health assessment.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a video statement on Facebook detailing what his office is doing to protect the orca population in the waters around the state. "They are very intelligent animals, and the loss of this animal is quite profound".

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. Scientists are anxious about her and will watch her but don't have plans to help her or remove the calf.

The behaviour often involved one or more individuals attending to the deceased.

'It is terrible. This is an animal that is a sentient being, ' Deborah Giles, science and research director for the nonprofit Wild Orc said. Sadly though, less than an hour after being born, the calf died.

"Having not laid eyes on her personally before, it was dramatic how thin she is", Haulena said. This is the only way to restore balance to the fragile ecosystems where killer whales live so that their food supply will be replenished and their species can once again thrive. The dead calf's mother, J35, has carried its carcass for more than two weeks as it appears to grieve. "There was no sign of the groups waiting for her ... she was mostly with her mom as well as her siblings". Researchers with the Whale Sanctuary Project took a sample of the fish scales so they can later genetically track whether the whales consume that fish, while other crews with the Lummi tribe scooped the salmon out of a large bin and sent it into the water.

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"She was breathing very well; her respiratory rate was normal", he said.

A medical team was speeding to Race Rocks, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles, as of 1 p.m., to see if the conditions are right to attempt to help her.

Since then, an adult male orca went missing in June and is presumed dead.

Hanson said Springer's case was different because it was isolated. A report is due later this year.

The task force is considering a range of efforts, from increasing hatchery production of salmon, training more private boats to help respond to oil spills, and prioritizing areas where important habitat can be restored.

The orcas are distinct from other killer whales because they eat salmon rather than marine mammals. "It's very hard to say, but certainly they're very intelligent animals and the loss of this animal is quite profound for both the (killer whales) and I think for everyone who witnesses this".

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