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

Eighty athletes compete at Biathlon BC Cup race in Quesnel

Two-day event at Hallis Lake features beginners, national-calibre racers and recreational athletes

Column: This and that for seniors in Quesnel

Regular Observer columnist Ruth Scoullar writes about what’s happening and shares some good advice

Forestry Hockey League Highlights: Week 17

Bear Communications and Fraser River GM notch key wins

British Columbia Rodeo Association releases tentative 2019 schedule

The BCRA season opens with the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo April 26-28, comes to Quesnel July 19-21

Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre wins $500 for Deeds Well Done

There were 28 nominations to the campaign in Quesnel

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Cariboo man pleads guilty to second degree murder in death of former girlfriend

Michael Martel admits to violent attack on Vesna Dumpstrey-Soos in 100 Mile House

Most Read