Biologists Plan Rescue Mission For Endangered Orca

Biologists Plan Rescue Mission For Endangered Orca

Biologists Plan Rescue Mission For Endangered Orca

People from all over the world have remained riveted as the mother killer whale has lugged the body of her dead calf around the Salish Sea.

Scientists are anxious that Tahlequah, or J35, is not getting adequate food because she has been carrying her baby for so long.

"These are very intelligent animals, and the loss of this animal is quite profound for the matriline and everyone who witnesses it", said Sheila Thornton, lead killer-whale scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Scientists on both sides of the border have been working together on an emergency rescue plan for a young female orca known as J50, that appears emaciated but continues to swim alongside her mother.

The team led by the US agency lacks a permit to feed the whale, which is emaciated and possibly suffering an infection, in Canadian waters, though it had one for medical treatment. Experts gave her antibiotics through a dart and took a breath sample to help figure out whether she has an infection.

The response group is now considering a trial feeding the young whale live salmon as a possible tactic to deliver oral antibiotics in the future. NOAA officials say her condition is being monitored. However, Dawn Noren, a research fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center, said that a female killer whale could fast for a period of up to four weeks before it became detrimental to its health.

"Obviously the connection they've formed with this calf is substantial and it's something that we do have to take into account", he said.


If you'd like to be a part of the solution to saving these handsome whales, one easy step you can take is to reduce or completely do away with your personal consumption of seafood.

But they don't plan to intervene to help a mother orca in the same critically endangered pod that also has them anxious.

"I think it could have gone a little bit better and I would try things a little bit differently based on what we found", Haulena said. Tahlequah is not carrying that calf's body all by herself - members of her family have been helping her with her vigil. What would be unique is giving the orca medication through live fish, Rowles said.

University of Washington scientist Deborah Giles said she was heartbroken for what is happening with the mom and child.

The whales face nutritional stress over a lack of Chinook salmon as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances.

An worldwide team of experts has been waiting for an opportunity to get close to the female killer whale so they can carry out an emergency plan that includes giving it antibiotics or feeding it live salmon at sea.

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. She was fed live salmon in the pen.

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