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12 August 2018, 05:37 | Ross Houston
An adult female Southern Resident killer whale with her calf in Pacific Northwest waters. AP
Which is why Southern ResidentOrca J35, or Tahlequah, the 20-year-old killer whale whose calf died only a half hour after birth on July 24, 2018, near Victoria, British Columbia, has been getting so much attention.
NOAA says that the team will decide whether to feed the free-swimming whale live salmon from a boat.
There are now only 75 southern resident killer whales that live in the waters along the USA west coast from Alaska to California, according to Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research. One by one, crews aboard a boat belonging to the Lummi Nation, an American Indian tribe, sent the plump salmon into a turquoise tube and then into the water.
Balcomb speculates J35 will drop her baby soon, after carrying it for more than 1,000 miles. A King County research vessel drove alongside, also carrying fish, to provide support.
Vancouver Aquarium confirmed in a separate post that its head veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, was with the response teams Thursday.
"These are very intelligent animals, and the loss of this animal is quite profound for the matriline and everyone who witnesses it", said Sheila Thornton, lead killer-whale scientist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It wasn't clear whether she had been eating.
"That is very good news", he said. As of August 9, The Seattle Times reports that Tahlequah was still clinging to her baby, keeping its 400-pound (180-kilogram) body afloat with her head, coming up for air and swimming in a tight circle behind her pod for a few breaths before diving down deep to lift her daughter's body to the surface again.
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"The team obtained a breath sample to help assess infection & and gave antibiotics". According to a 2012 study, a male killer whale over the age of 30 is three times more likely to die within a year after his mother's death.
As Joe Gaydos, a wildlife veterinarian and science director of SeaDoc Society, reportedly said regarding J50's concerning condition, "It's not a time where you're going to say, 'Let's keep watching.' We know it's not going to end well if we don't try and do something".
He said a different needle could have been used to allow it to deliver the entire dose, but he didn't want the animal to have the needle remain with her for a few days or longer before it fell off.
"That's what this is really all about".
An endangered orca is not letting go of her newborn calf, whose body she has been pushing through the water for more than two weeks.
Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a video statement on Facebook detailing what his office is doing to protect the orca population in the waters around the state.
The last time scientists rescued a killer whale in the region was in 2002 when a northern resident killer whale known as Springer was found swimming alone in Puget Sound. She returned to her family of whales in Canada later that year and was seen with her calf in 2013.
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