VIDEO: Ailing orca J50 gets 2nd dart of antibiotics by B.C. vet

‘She still looks very, very thin,’ said Dr. Martin Haulena, a Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian

A severely emaciated orca that’s garnered international response efforts for several weeks has received her second dose of antibiotics while swimming in Canadian waters.

J50, a Southern Resident whale also known as Scarlet, is one of 75 southern resident killer whales that travel along the B.C. coast and down to California.

In early August, scientists confirmed she is suffering from a syndrome called “peanut head,” where her head appears too small for her body and is most likely due to not getting enough food. A white spot has also been spotted near her blow hole, which could indicate an infection.

Since then, officials have been working around the clock to determine the best efforts to save J50, while working through legal barriers barring Canadian researchers from using certain methods to help the underweight killer whale.

But the four-year-old killer whale hadn’t been spotted since Thursday, causing grave concern for veterinarians and marine biologists over the Labour Day long weekend.

READ MORE: Scientists probe ‘next steps’ after emaciated orca finally spotted in B.C. waters

READ MORE: Emaciated orca gets first treatment after being spotted in B.C. waters

“Every member of her family was spotted and accounted for on the weekend, and she wasn’t with them,” said Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian of the Vancouver Aquarium, in a press release Tuesday.

When she was spotted, she was lagging behind most of J Pod by more than three nautical miles and appeared to be struggling to keep up. But just hours after the Center for Whale Research issued a report early Monday stating that hope was fading for the young orca’s survival, she appeared again, swimming alongside her mother, J16.

“She still looks very, very thin,” Haulena said. “But she was surprisingly bright. She was swimming well with her group, holding her breath and diving as she should be, so not showing any obvious signs of pneumonia.”

READ MORE: Canadian laws could prevent emaciated killer whale from being treated

Working from the hull of a research vessel Friday, Haulena was able to successfully inject J50 with a dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics through a dart, following up the initial dose administered on Aug. 9.

Although Haulena was unable to administer the whale’s third dart of antibiotics Monday, the team of researchers have now shifted to administering a deworming medication, also through a dart, to reduce any parasitic burden on J50’s system so she can begin to recover.

Reports suggest the whales have moved north into Canadian waters, so the vet team will also work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to continue the treatment.

“We’re in uncharted territory, treating a very sick member of a critically endangered killer whale population,” Haulena said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Sept. 24

A look at our local history, gathered by Revelstoke Museum & Archives staff

City applying for grant to build trail along Airport Way

The trail would connect McKinnon Rd. with Nichol Rd.

Fabrication lab, offices and new washrooms coming to Revelstoke’s Business and Visitor Information Centre

City council awarded the $500,000 contract to Jordan Cochrane Construction

‘Schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Children have a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

B.C. VOTES 2020: NDP speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

Kelowna RCMP warn public as gift card scam season comes

“Gift cards are for gifts, not payments,” Kelowna RCMP said

Osoyoos model train attraction wins Tripadvisor award

Desert Model Railroad wins nod for Traveller’s Choice

Hedley man advertises bounty on rats

One rat tail will net five dollars

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Most Read