Emaciated orca receives antibiotics at crucial time

Postado Agosto 12, 2018

Experts are preparing rare emergency efforts to administer antibiotics or feed live salmon to try to save a young emaciated orca that's part of a critically endangered pod of killer whales.

However, as much as people want to intervene on the scene, scientists suggest leaving the mom orca and her dead calf alone. Experts gave her antibiotics through a dart and took a breath sample to help figure out whether she has an infection. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a permit for such efforts in USA waters.

"Obviously the connection [the pod] has formed with this calf is substantial and is something that we do have to take into account - what or how that might impact the whale from her behavioral state", Hanson said.

USA biologists are racing to find the underweight 3-year-old animal to administer antibiotics either through food or by injection, but she could be dead or in Canada. "It's got to be tragic for these animals to lose these babies, and it's happening at a record pace", senior scientist Ken Balcomb, who works at the Centre for Whale Research, which studies the Southern Resident whale population, told BBC.

Meanwhile, DFO researchers confirmed Wednesday that J35 was still carrying her dead calf more than two weeks since it died shortly after being born on July 24.

He says the whale is incredibly skinny but was swimming well and there were no obvious signs of abnormality with her skin.

"The assumption is she could be fortified like a dolphin", Noren said.

16 days later, the killer whale still hasn't given up on her baby.

The whales face nutritional stress over a lack of Chinook salmon as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances.

An worldwide team of experts has been waiting for an opportunity to get close to the female killer whale so they can carry out an emergency plan that includes giving it antibiotics or feeding it live salmon at sea.

Experts say Springer's case was different because she was isolated. And although Tahlequah's period of mourning is longer than most researchers have believed possible, she is certainly not the first mother orca to engage in what researchers are calling a "tour of grief" with her deceased calf.

Since then, an adult male orca went missing in June and is presumed dead. A final report is due in November.

The efforts come as a task force called by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met Tuesday to come up with solutions to help the whales.

"We have obvious concerns about the displacement of her behavior away from foraging and feeding, to carrying the calf, and concerns over the length of time of this behavior as it continues, and the possibility of decreasing her ability to forage effectively", Thornton said.

The group will prioritize short-term and long-term actions, many of which are certain to focus on recovering the prized salmon that the fish-eating whales like to eat.