Global team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

Mourning orca mother still carrying dead calf more than two weeks later on 'tour of grief'

Mourning orca mother still carrying dead calf more than two weeks later on 'tour of grief'

The adult orca's condition is being monitored, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration fisheries experts wrote on the agency's website. The experts now have authorization to intervene with medical treatment in both US and Canadian waters once the critically endangered orca shows up again in the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest.

An endangered, grieving orca is still carrying her dead calf more than two weeks after the newborn died, CBS affiliate KIRO reports.

"We have obvious concerns about the displacement of her behaviour away from foraging and feeding towards carrying her calf, and concerns over the length of time this behaviour continues", said Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) killer whale researcher Sheila Thornton.

Researchers spotted the 20-year-old whale and the calf off of Washington's Olympic Peninsula on Wednesday, the station says.

PHOTO: Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C., on August 7, 2018.

The calf died July 24 and images of the mother, also known as Tahlequah or J35, have struck the hearts of people worldwide. She was last spotted Wednesday.

No intervention is planned, she said, but they will monitor her condition.

J50 is one of just 75 remaining southern resident killer whales that swim the coastal waters between British Columbia and California, and the tweet describes her as "skinny and small", but keeping up with her mother and siblings.

"Obviously the connection they've formed with this calf is substantial and it's something that we do have to take into account", he said.

Brad Hanson with NOAA said earlier Thursday that if they didn't obtain health samples from J50 soon, opportunities to medicate the orca might dry up as rough weather is expected to come in Friday. In order to feed the sick whale the medicated fish, crews must get within five metres of the pod. She was fed live salmon in the pen.

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