Scientists racing to find, save young killer whale
Scientists racing to find, save young killer whale
Emergency rescue efforts for endangered killer whale hit snag in Canada
09 August, 2018, 00:26
"Where they are is not where these kind of activities could occur", said Paul Cottell, marine mammal coordinator for Fisheries Oceans Canada.
Scarlet is the youngest southern resident killer whale among a group of 75 that feed in the waters off of Alaska and northern California, but when scientists were last able to evaluate her condition, she was underweight and had an infection, Rowles said during the press call.
As a female with reproductive potential, scientists say she could play a vital role in her species' recovery if she survives. Then the whales disappeared back into the fog.
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With that hope - and under the worldwide attention on J-Pod since a mother whale carried her dead newborn calf for days - officials on both sides of the border are preparing to act. This will likely involve sampling J50's breath from a close range and collecting fecal samples.
There has also been a suggestion of attempting an oral administration of antibiotics via the live salmon, but injection remains the first priority. The emergency plan is to inject the killer whale with antibiotics through a pole system from a boat. If J50 responds to the salmon, they will be considered as a way to administer medications that may not be injectable.
Rowles said that while the research boats are out in the water searching for Scarlet, they have to keep a distance at least 200 yards to make sure that they don't further stress the sick, young whale or other whales.
It's not unusual for wild whales to be out of sight for some time, but J-50's condition was so poor it's not clear how long she has left.
She said it became evident that "we needed to intervene to determine potentially what was the cause and whether there was anything we could do to assist her". "But again, it's a big ocean out there so we can't be surprised if J-pod, K-pod and L-pod are staying out in areas where they are not accessible to us".
Canadian officials have not received an application to administer antibiotics to the whale in Canadian waters, Cottell said, a procedure NOAA wants to try if J50 is in Washington waters.
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