A young endangered killer whale at the centre of a cross-border "emergency response" has received a novel medical treatment at sea as part of an effort to help the ailing three-year old swimming with her pod off the coast of British Columbia.
Researchers told The Seattle Times that they have no plans to take the body away from J35 even as they worry about her health. He and others followed the whale on the water for about six hours Thursday and got a breath sample to analyze whether she might have bacteria or fungus in her airway.
Brad Hanson of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says hard conditions have prevented the teams from collecting breath and fecal samples but they are hoping weather conditions improve by Sunday.
Veterinarians who are racing out to try to assess J50, the sick whale, will decide whether to give it antibiotics using either a dart injector or a long pole syringe.
Biologists will watch to see if the young whale is foraging, determine if she vomits after eating, observe the health of her scat, and obtain a fecal sample.
"Even if her family is foraging for and sharing fish with her, J35 can not be getting the. nutrition she needs to regain any body-mass loss that would have naturally occurred during the gestation of her fetus and also additional loss of nutrition during these weeks of mourning", she said.
"This is completely unprecedented, and honestly your guess is as good as ours as far as what is going on here", Deborah Giles, a research scientist at the University of Washington's Center for Conservation Biology, said in a phone interview.
"Removing the calf would be a very, very hard decision, and obviously we would have to take many factors into consideration, so that's now not on the table", she said.
"We're obviously concerned, and monitoring the situation", Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist at NOAA, said during a status call with the media.
"We are ready to go", Hanson said. The fact that her body was likely prepped for lactation, too, means she has extra lipids in her blubber that will sustain her for a while. Thornton added that the calf is still "surprisingly intact".
Experts say Springer's case was different because she was isolated.
They face nutritional stress over a lack of their preferred food source, Chinook salmon, as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances that disrupt their ability to communicate and forage. He estimated she has carried the calf more than 1,000 miles. "So we've been standing by here, hoping that the southern residents will come back in". A report is due later this year. That data has documented orcas that declined and then disappeared.
The task force is considering a range of efforts, from increasing hatchery production of salmon, training more private boats to help respond to oil spills, and prioritizing areas where important habitat can be restored.
The orcas are distinct from other killer whales because they eat salmon rather than marine mammals.