Dr. Joe Gaydos offers perspective on the efforts to save J50

Dr. Joe Gaydos of SeaDoc Society, who was involved in the unsuccessful efforts to help the emaciated female orca, J50, this summer has written an article "What We Learned from J50".  J50 was last seen in the first week of September and is believed to have died.

J50 near Point Roberts this summer. NOAA photo

"This past summer the world watched as the small four-year-old southern resident killer whale, J50, lost weight and, despite medical efforts to help, died (see below for links to media coverage). Scarlet, named for the rake marks or scars seen on her body shortly after birth, quickly captured the hearts of southern resident watchers thanks to her breaches and extreme surface activities.

"Collaborative photogrammetry studies by NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, SR3 and the Vancouver Aquarium documented that Scarlet had always been small for her age. The Center for Whale Research recognized how thin she was this past spring and several biologists noted a fetid smell to her breath. Follow-up photogrammetry efforts quantified a considerable loss in her nutritional condition, and numerous phone calls and meetings eventually led to the first ever attempt to provide medical intervention for a free-ranging southern resident killer whale. Many people asked, "Why now?" Was it a media ploy on the heels of the tragedy of J35 (Tahlequah) carrying her dead calf for 17 days? While the timing could make you think so, it was not."

The complete article is available on the SeaDoc Society's website


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