Scientists concerned about endangered orca still pushing body of her calf

Scientists concerned about endangered orca still pushing body of her calf

"If it's determined that antibiotics would be useful, then antibiotics through injection is going to be our best course rather than antibiotics through food, because we recognize that we won't able to treat her every day", Rowles said.

Scientists are anxious that Tahlequah, or J35, is not getting adequate food because she has been carrying her baby for so long. "Great work by the teams on the water!" She was last seen Thursday still carrying her calf. It's unclear if the whale has been eating, and scientists told the outlet her vast swim could very well be depleting her energy reserves. But as of Wednesday night, Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it has received an application from NOAA to administer the antibiotics.

The plan on Thursday was to provide emergency assistance for the whale, with a visual medical assessment, as well as a shot of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Her immediate family has been spotted helping her eat.

The Lummi Nation is also standing by to provide live chinook salmon for the young whale. Researchers with the Whale Sanctuary Project took a sample of the fish scales so they can later genetically track whether the whales consume that fish, while other crews with the Lummi tribe scooped the salmon out of a large bin and sent it into the water.

The initial plan was to take the fish from seiners or reef netters, a maneuver the Lummi practiced Monday with success.

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.

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In order to get breath samples, the scientists use a six-metre carbon-fibre pole with petri dishes on the end. However, Hanson said, conditions have to be just right to do so. However, if J50 is off by herself, quietly resting or foraging, that could present an opportunity. She is deteriorating, and scientists are not seeing improvements in a loss of tissue behind her head, Thornton said.

Killer whales, though they have a reputation for being ruthless predators, are some of the most socially sophisticated animals in the world. "So we've been standing by here, hoping that the southern residents will come back in".

Many have expressed surprise at just how powerfully watching Tahlequah has affected them. The only problem is, they need to figure out how to do so without getting the orca used to people or boats, something which would ultimately end up interfering with the animal's ability to survive in the wild.

He said they were a few hours into their six-hour day with J50 when all the conditions aligned and they chose to attempt to administer the antibiotics by dart.

"It is very possible that she has succumbed at this point and that we may never see her again", Rowles told reporters Tuesday.

"Yet a lot of times in society that type of grief goes unrecognized", she said.

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