An active network of citizen scientists, researchers, commercial whale watch operators and private boaters are helping NOAA search for J50, a three-year-old member of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale pods, according to NOAA Fisheries Recovery Coordinator Lynne Barre. NOAA is conducting daily press conferences each morning this week.
J50 when she was six-months-old July 2015. Photograph by Naturalist Clint "Showtime" RIvers, Eagle Wing Tours, Victoria, BC courtesy of PWWA
NOAA's plans for a team of veterinarians to conduct a health assessment on J50 over the weekend didn't work out as the juvenile whale was not sighted in interior waters. They hope to be able to get breath and feces samples. More photographs and videos will also help NOAA assess the condition of the emaciated juvenile orca.
While waiting to interact with the emaciated orca, NOAA is working with members of the Lummi Tribe to test ways of funneling chinook salmon to the young whale. The Lummi will provide the live fish.
As of yet, approval of a plans to feed and/or medicate the orca are being analyzed at NOAA headquarters. The work if approved would be done under the National Marine Mammal Health and Safety permit. A long-acting antibiotic could be provided through an injection or by putting the antibiotic in fish.
Whatever is done, will be done with the minimal interaction possible, said Barre.
In September 2017, J52 died. He appeared to have peanut-head syndrome, a sign of malnutrition. NOAA has been comparing photos of J52 to recent ones of J50. Barre said without the opportunity to do necropsies, the amount of information they have about the cause of death is limited. She encouraged people to contact NOAA if they come across whales washing up on the shore.
While NOAA considers the situation with J50 urgent, they don't expect her to die within the next 24 to 36 hours.
The three pods composing the SRKW population, J, K and L, eat primarily chinook salmon. According to Barre, the orcas are known for sharing their prey with each other.
SRKW is down to only 75 members. Governor Jay Inslee's task force meets Tuesday, August 7 in Wenatchee to discuss orca recovery efforts.
NOAA Regional Stranding Coordinator Kristin Wilkinson provided a brief update on J35 in answer to a question. The orca who has been keeping her dead calf afloat for more than 10 days was last sighted at the end of last week as the orcas were heading out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
- J50 to be treated for parasite found in fecal sample
- NOAA tried to feed J50 off of the west side of San Juan Island
- With orca mother no longer carrying dead calf, Greenpeace calls for greater efforts to protect endangered orcas
- J-35 releases her dead calf
- Updates on J50: Still with her pod
- 'Very, very thin' killer whale injected with antibiotics near the San Juan Islands
- Update August 9 on efforts to assess/medicate J50
- Update August 10 on J-35: She has been carrying her calf for 17 days
- Update August 8 on J50
- Update on efforts to help J50
- NOAA checking J50's health Aug. 5; decision Monday on action
- Update from the Whale Museum about J-35
- Update from CWR about J-35's dead calf
- J52 "Sonic" died - 3rd of 6 "2015 baby boom" orca to die
- Update on killer whale "Class of 2015"
- All four baby orcas doing well especially J50
- Update on J50 ,J51 and L121
- J51 and J50 spotted swimming with their moms
- Another orca calf in J pod
- New calf sighted in J pod.