A team of veterinarians was attempting on Sunday, August 5 to complete a health assessment of J50, a three-year-old member of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said J-pod was traveling east from open waters on the west side of Vancouver Island towards the Salish Sea Saturday evening.
J50 when she was six-months-old July 2015. Photograph by Naturalist Clint "Showtime" RIvers, Eagle Wing Tours, Victoria, BC courtesy of PWWA
Once the health assessment is completed, NOAA will determine what steps to take to support the whale. According to NOAA, the juvenlle orca is emaciated and is sometimes lethargic in the water, but still has perio of activity including feeding.
Analysis of a small sample of her breath did no definitively indicate an infection or illness, although it did not rule out one either. Scientists who have observed the whale agreed that she is in poor condition and may not survive.
Experts on a conference call August 2, 2018 agreed to focus on obtaining better photographs of the whale and conducting a veterinary health assessment. A white path behind her blowhole may be a symptom of infection.
Fecal samples and another breath sample are being sought.
NOAA will be giving updates daily starting Monday, August 6, 2018.
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