Mama orca carries dead calf for third week

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 10, 2018

Canada has received and is granting a permit for scientists to assess and treat the young orca, a female, in Canadian waters.

An endangered orca is not letting go of her newborn calf, whose body she has been pushing through the water for more than two weeks.

"As there are only approximately 76 southern resident killer whales left, we must take into consideration whether our actions risk harming either J-50 or her pod", adds the DFO statement.

While Tahlequah is mourning her dead baby, another young whale is on the brink of death, said scientists, who are racing against time to save 3-year-old J50, also known as Scarlet.

The rescue team has approval in both USA and Canadian waters to give J50 medication, but there is no such plan for another member of the population of southern resident killer whales that has scientists anxious.

J35 has carried her dead calf on her head for at least 16 days.

The calf died July 24 and images of the mother, also known as Tahlequah or J35, have struck the hearts of people worldwide.

J50 was last spotted Wednesday alongside her mother.

USA and Canadian scientists said they were concerned about the mother's condition and would keep monitoring her but have no immediate plans to help her or remove the calf.

The 3½-year-old orca is thin, in poor body condition and may have an infection. By the time biologists from the Center for Whale Research arrived at her side, the calf was dead.

"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.

The fish-eating orcas that frequent the inland waters of Washington state are down to 75 animals, and there hasn't been a successful birth since 2015.

A federally organized response team was able to administer antibiotics to the ailing, "very skinny" 3-year-old orca J50 in US waters near San Juan Island on Thursday, NOAA announced Thursday night.

"Tracking the animals in close proximity is challenging", Hanson said, mentioning that breath sampling is almost impossible in bad weather.

The possibility of giving medicated fish to a free-swimming whale in the wild would be a first, officials said.

The carcass is "surprisingly intact", she said. She was fed live salmon in the pen.

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