Animal conservationists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently happened upon a distressed 3.5-year-old orca named J50 off the coast of San Juan Island, and further analysis showed that she was malnourished and behaving irregularly.
In connection to her deteriorated health, J50 seemed to be avoiding social contact with the rest of her pod and wasn’t eating enough. Nevertheless, experts say her condition doesn’t appear to be worsening, which might be considered a good thing.
Image Credit: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool
In an attempt to help J50, trained veterinarians used antibiotic darts last week to combat any potential infections that may have been impacting the orca’s health. Then, over the weekend, a group of conservationists set out again to try and get her to eat something.
They located J50 by boat on Sunday and attempted to feed her six tasty live salmon, but she didn’t respond as expected, and instead refused to eat any of them. It was a particularly upsetting situation, as the conservationists hoped this feeding run would serve as a testing platform.
“We did not see her directly taking fish. We just saw her continue to buck into the tide,” said Brad Hanson, a researcher with NOAA. “This type of thing has never been tried before.”
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The original plan was for veterinarians to follow up by feeding the orca medicated salmon that could treat her condition further, but since she isn’t eating anything, that method obviously won’t work.
Some of the conservationists reportedly witnessed other orcas with J50’s pod eating salmon, but they were unable to discern whether these were the same salmon the conservationists had been planting in the water.
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The situation surrounding J50’s health comes only a few days after animal researchers observed another orca carrying her dead calf around for 17 days before finally letting go.
Whale conservationists seem to have been rather busy in recent memory, but with any luck, things will look up for J50.
Source: San Juan Insider