The killer whale, J50, was spotted by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) with her mother J16 in Canadian waters near Port Renfrew Tuesday, August 7, 2018. According to Dr. Sheila Thornton, a research scientist at DFO's Vancouver Lab, the three-year-old member of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population was staying close to her mother. She exhibited "logging" behavior.
Southern Resident killer whale J-50 and her mother, J-16, off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C., on August 7. Photo credit: Brian Gisborne, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
According to the Center for Whale Research, logging behavior is resting at the water surface exposing its melon, upper back and part of its dorsal fin for a period of at least 10 seconds.
J50 and J16 were seen by the DFO researchers from 3:52 to 4:31 p.m. when they disappeared in the fog. Paul Cottrell from DFO described the conditions as "pea soup".
NOAA and DFO held another joint teleconference Wednesday morning. NOAA's plan to help the emaciated whale includes a step by step process, that can be stopped at anytime. First priority is a health assessment including samples of breath and feces. Depending on the results of the assessment and the conditions on the water, the veterinarians onsite have permission to administer an injection of a broad spectrum antibiotic by pole syringe or with a dart. This can only be done in U.S. waters.
Most of the time during Wednesday's teleconference was spent answering questions from reporters who were trying to get clarification on what can be done when J50 is in Canadian waters. Cottrell said repeatedly, that someone needs to file an application for a permit to do the injections. The application would then be reviewed.
Lynne Barre from NOAA said her agency had sent the documentation they had to DFO.
Dr. Thornton clarified the situation. She said the SRKWs are listed as endangered under the Canadian Species At Risk Act and that this limits actions that can be taken.
"There are very specific preconditions that are required," she said. "We do need to complete a more fulsome risk analysis." She also said there is no diagnosis at this time of what is causing the whale to be in poor health and that treatment with a broad spectrum antibiotic without a diagnosis is problemmatic.
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