Mother Orca Spotted Carrying Dead Calf For 17th Day

Mother Orca Spotted Carrying Dead Calf For 17th Day

Another female orca in the same pod has triggered an worldwide outpouring as she clings to the body of her calf that died more than two weeks ago.

Sheila Thornton, lead killer whale research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said they are anxious that the time and energy it spends carrying the body could take away from foraging or feeding.

They spotted J35 while searching for another of the remaining 75 southern resident killer whales, labelled an endangered species in both Canada and the United States.

An ailing and emaciated orca named Scarlet may get food and antibiotics soon - if biologists can find her before it's too late. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a permit for such efforts in USA waters.

The Lummi Nation is also standing by to provide live chinook salmon for the young whale. Researchers spotted the 20-year-old whale and the calf off of Washington's Olympic Peninsula on Wednesday, the station says.

Fisheries and Oceans officials say they are ready to act quickly if the response is to take place in Canadian waters. They are waiting for her to show up again in Washington state waters so they can zip out on a boat to do a health assessment, said Teri Rowles, marine mammal health and stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.

"Having not laid eyes on her personally before, it was dramatic how thin she is", said Dr. Marty Haulena, the Vancouver Aquarium's head veterinarian.

The carcass is "surprisingly intact", she said.

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"Our decision will be based on science and we will act quickly with our partners when conditions permit, to take appropriate action", the ministry said in a statement.

"This is a novel undertaking", Mr Hanson said.

US and Canadian officials acknowledged Thursday that they're concerned that J35's apparent grieving process could prevent her from foraging, but they have no plans to intervene at this point to remove the dead calf. What would be unique is giving the orca medication through live fish, Rowles said.

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. The idea is to do a trial run with live salmon, releasing the fish through a chute about 50 to 100 yards in front of the orca.

Mr Hanson said Springer's case was different because she was isolated.

The last time scientists rescued a killer whale in the region was in 2002 when a northern resident killer whale known as Springer was found swimming alone in Puget Sound.

Teams of whale experts raced out to sea Thursday to help an ailing young killer whale, but they don't plan to intervene to help a mother orca in the same critically endangered pod that has been pushing the body of her dead calf for more than two weeks. She returned to her family of whales in Canada later that year and in 2013 was seen with her new calf.

They also face overlapping threats from toxic pollution and noise and disturbances from boats.

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