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

Mass-timber project in Esquimalt switches from condos to rentals

Corvette Landing will now offer rental units in the area

Improperly transporting a pet in the back of the truck can cost up to $368

Police recommend keeping all animals inside the passenger portion of the vehicle

Police incident in Mount Douglas Park leads to road closure

Officers turning cars away, letting hikers go up trails

PHOTOS: Women’s March through downtown Victoria draws crowds of activists, allies

Attendees of all ages carried instruments, posters with empowering messages

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Most Read