After Dramatic Weekend For Orca Biologists, New Attempts To Help J-50

Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C., on August 7. CREDIT: BRIAN GISBORNE, FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA
Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C. CREDIT: BRIAN GISBORNE, FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA

Veterinarians are again trying to help the emaciated young orca named J-50, after a dramatic turn of events over the weekend.

J-50 is still emaciated and underweight, but continues to swim with her pod, said Michael Milstein, public affairs officer with NOAA Fisheries.

“It kind of went from concern to elation in a very short amount of time,” Milstein said.

Biologists hadn’t seen J-50 for three days, Milstein said, and was feared dead. NOAA notified the public that she was missing.

Suddenly, midday Monday, a boat from The Whale Museum saw her swimming with her pod in the Salish Sea. Crews snapped into action and a veterinarian with the Vancouver Aquarium injected her with antibiotics by Monday evening. They’ve followed her since, and Milstein says she was spotted Tuesday swimming in Canadian waters near the Fraser River. Canadian vets will inject her with a dewormer if they can reach her, because of concern she could have parasitic worms.

“The fact that she’s still active and engaged with the pod has really impressed everyone, and I think everyone agrees that this is one tough little whale,” Milstein said.

J-50 is one of the youngest members in the endangered J-pod. NOAA Fisheries says that after one attempt in August to medicate her with antibiotics, she is still emaciated and underweight.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to post updates about J-50 on Twitter.

Copyright 2018 KUOW

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