Rescue team rushes to help ailing orca spotted off B.C.

10 Août, 2018, 17:53 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Mourning orca mother still carrying dead calf more than two weeks later on 'tour of grief'

Another orca in the critically endangered group of killer whales has been pushing her dead calf in the water for more than two weeks, raising concerns about her health.

The whale known as J35 was spotted in coastal waters near the border between B.C. and Washington state Wednesday with the carcass of her calf that was born and died on July 24. She was seen again Thursday, still holding on to the remains.

The rescue team has approval in both US and Canadian waters to give J50 medication, but there is no such plan for another member of the population of southern resident killer whales that has scientists anxious. The calf was only seen alive briefly.

Researchers prefer calm seas to approach the whales, as any sampling or medication would require a long carbon fiber pole that is tough to navigate in choppy water. "I think she is grieving".

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Deborah Giles, a research scientist and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca, told the Seattle Times. It's unclear if the whale has been eating, and scientists told the outlet her vast swim could very well be depleting her energy reserves.

"Tracking the animals in close proximity is challenging", Hanson said, mentioning breath sampling is almost impossible in bad weather.

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"It's starting to come apart", she said.

J50, a starving 3-year-old orca, was spotted alongside the J Pod Thursday.

"As there are only approximately 76 southern resident killer whales left, we must take into consideration whether our actions risk harming either J-50 or her pod", adds the DFO statement.

Giles said the spotlight on the animals, while itself awful news, has already led to skyrocketing worry about their plight.

The pod has been decimated in recent decades mainly due to the disappearance of their prime food source, chinook salmon.

The researcher said the event may compel Inslee to use some of his political capital to help the orcas sooner than expected. Her mother, however, was not ready to let go. "That's what's different, we have legions of people around the world that are paying attention".

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