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Fecal sample shows J50's mother has parasites

Results are in from the fecal and breath samples collected by NOAA's team of researchers last month. Researchers had hoped the fecal sample was from J50, the three-year-old emaciated member of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

J16 breaching off the west side of San Juan Island in August. 

Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786.

Genetic analysis revealed that one fecal sample was from J16, J50's mother. The sample showed evidence of parasitic worms. Since J16 catches fish that she then shares with J50, the veterinary team prioritized treating J50 with a dewormer, following antibiotics.

Two antibiotic injections have been given to the young orca. The first didn't deliver a full dose as it "bounced" off the whale. A different type of dart was used to deliver the second dose on September 4, 2018.

A second fecal sample was identified as coming from J27, an adult male.

Researchers at Northwest Fisheries Science Center extracted DNA from the breath sample collected on August 9, 2018. While the sample was small and yielded little DNA, researchers are adapting their analysis to make the most of the available material.

NOAA is spearheading extraordinary measures to improve the health of the young orca. The SRKW population is down to 75 members from a population of 98 in 1995. 

1 comment

  • Peter Hamilton Friday, 07 September 2018 12:41 Comment Link Report

    News Release
    September 6, 2018 (Updated September 7th)
    Re: Stop the Cruel Capture Plans for J50 and Family!
    Any proposed capture plans for the orca Scarlett/J50 would be cruel and presents a high risk of harm to her, her mom Slick/J16 and her family. This is the same family that with mom Tahlequah/J35 recently mourned the loss of her baby and carried the lifeless body for 17 days. Separating Scarlett and mom Slick would cause unimaginable suffering. It would break a precious bond between them and their lifelong family. A capture could also result in injuries and drowning.
    “NOAA and DFO must stop these “last resort” cruel capture plans,” stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Foundation, “Even if J50 ever was separated from her family they can reunite on their own or be reunited NOT captured! If stranded on a beach she must be refloated and reunited! (Note: BC Transient “Tumbo”, who suffers from scoliosis, has been separated and found his family). At times Nature will take its peaceful course as one passes with their family not torn apart from them.”
    On September 3rd J50 appeared to be active by officials. And on September 5th she was quite active when observed by Lifeforce’s Peter Hamilton in waters near Comox, BC. (Photos/video are available)
    How Much More Can They Endure?
    Hamilton added, “These orcas must not be treated as laboratory experiments. The Vancouver Aquarium has claimed that “rescues” and captives are untapped research tools. This is done for lucrative grants and to continue cetacean captivity. They must not be studied to death with ongoing multiple experiments. . As the research system is to “Publish or Perish” but that must not be the orcas.
    Immediate SARA Emergency Orders
    There must be immediate fishing moratoriums and enforcement against continued boater harassment. These and other measures must be enacted as an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act. Read our Petition with over 165,000 supporters. Save the Orca Families Now!
    Other J50 issues:
    1. J50 should have been treated with specific antibiotics following conclusive health tests before time is now running out.
    2. Antibiotics must not be put in salmon because those salmon cannot be targeted to J50. Antibiotics can cause major adverse reactions.
    3. A long term injection dart with antibiotics would expose J50 to infection from the polluted environment etc.. A similar “tagging” dart caused an infection in an L pod orca who died.
    For further information: Peter Hamilton, lifeforcesociety@gmail.com

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