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

Celebrating Family Day in Grand Forks

The activities on Market offered plenty for the whole family to do.

Grand Forks council flip-flops on BC Housing proposal

The low-income housing project on 19th was recalled for a second vote.

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

Most Read