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.

Just Posted

Caribou debate in Revelstoke makes international headlines

How much are we expected to sacrifice to save a dying species?

Dawn Low Interim CAO for Revelstoke for six months

She will be in the position until it is filled, it is not currently advertised

LETTER: Revelstoke Paddlesport Association opposed to gravel pit near Jordan River

City council has also expressed opposition to the gravel pit

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Firefighters have doused a Peachland house fire

Fire crews are still on scene investigating the cause of the BBQ which made its way to the home

False report of dead body leads police to sex dolls at Manning Park

Princeton RCMP breathed a sigh of relief, momentarily, when they discovered a… Continue reading

Ironman returns to Okanagan after seven-year absence

Subaru Ironman Canada is coming back to Penticton in 2020

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Special memorial service to say goodbye to murdered Kelowna teen

A memorial service and celebratio of life was held Tuesday for murdered teen Elijah-Iain Beauregard

Okanagan College campus flies Syilx flag

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag was raised at a ceremony at Vernon campus on July 16

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Most Read