UPDATED: Sick orca J50 declared dead by 1 group while scientists remain hopeful

Only 74 southern resident killer whales remain

J50, the ailing killer whale that has been the centre of attention for Canadian and American scientists throughout the summer, has been declared dead by one – but not all – research groups involved in rescuing the orca.

Her last known sighting was Friday, Sept. 7, according to the latest update by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

READ MORE: Ailing orca at centre of international rescue efforts missing for days

The Center for Whale Research, which declared J50 dead on Thursday afternoon, said it has had a vessel on the water for the past three days on the lookout for J50 but were unsuccesful. All other members of her family have been spotted during these outings.

But NOAA nor the DFO have declared the orca dead just yet.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting aerial search and teams are searching by boat in likely locations in U.S. & Canadian waters. We have not given up,” NOAA said in a statement, urging anyone who sees the young orca to call the stranding hotline at 1-866-767-6114.

In previous updates, researchers have said it’s not unlike J50 to dissapear for several days before being spotted swimming alongside her mother.

The four year old has been suffering from parasitic worms and “peanut-head syndrome,” which means her head is smaller than her body due to malnutrition. Officials had been injecting J50 with broad-spectrum antibiotics, by way of dart gun, in hopes of bringing the ailing orca back to health.

WATCH: J50 injected with antibiotics

READ MORE: U.S., Canadian researchers consider capturing ailing orca J50

J50 is one of 75 southern killer whales left on the planet.

Capture plan considered earlier this week

A rescue operation involving “hands-on physical examination” was part of discussions earlier this week on next steps possible to help J50 and her JPod.

On Wednesday, NOAA and the DFO said capturing J50, a four-year-old orca suffering from starvation, would only be an option if it didn’t harm other whales in J Pod and is the only option to allow her to contribute to the recovery of the population.

“The overriding priority of rescue is to evaluate, treat and rehabilitate J50 to give her the greatest chance of survival while ensuring her return and reunification with her family as soon as possible,” the agency said at the time.

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

Just Posted

Escaped python found in Saanich building reunited with its owner

The little snake is at ‘home, safe and sound,’ CRD chief bylaw officer says

COVID-19: Victoria hopes to provide financial relief through property taxes, utility bills

A number of city projects could be deferred in light of pandemic

Highway 1 tree removal impacts traffic Tuesday evening

Work starts April 7 at 6 p.m. between Finlayson Arm Road and Westshore Parkway

Victoria police seek public’s help finding man missing more than a week

Joel Diment 26 and has short brown hair and hazel eyes

Greater Victoria donates 166 tents, 240 sleeping bags and more for those in need

Items placed in 72-hour quarantine before being distributed to help homeless self-isolate

Mental Health: Planning for a crisis

Crisis planning lays out a blueprint in case hard times hit

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

Most Read