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Grieving orca still swimming with her dead calf off Washington coast

09 August 2018

"In terms of the licensing for the pole-mounted antibiotic injection or the darting mechanism. the activity from scientists has been approved, but we still need the application from the individuals, the researchers, the experts who want to undertake this", Cottrell said.

The four-year-old female killer whale, known as J50, is emaciated and lethargic, and scientists fear she has only days to live.

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around".

"There hasn't been an application by experts to [do] this in Canadian waters - the where, when, how", said Paul Cottell, marine mammal coordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

"Even if her family is foraging for and sharing fish with her, J35 can not be getting the nutrition she needs to regain any body-mass loss that would have naturally occurred during the gestation of her foetus and also additional loss of nutrition during these weeks of mourning", she added.

Tahlequah was seen along with her entire family off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula.

The young female orca has sparked an worldwide rescue effort by Canadian and American scientists who have developed a novel plan to feed her salmon medicated with antibiotics.

All permits are already in hand to intervene in Washington waters, including with a possible emergency feeding plan.

The Lummi Nation is standing by to catch and provide fish for J50, if the decision is made to feed her.

"It was foggy up there for most of the day", Cottrell said. The Southern Residents were listed as endangered in 2005 under the Endangered Species Act. Down to just 75 animals, every calf matters.

"The big question is, can we craft public policy that can make a difference in the future of the orca, and by doing so make a positive difference in how we live in Puget Sound", Purce said in an interview Monday.

NOAA says the J pod is made up of 23 whales, including 14 males and nine females. By the time biologists from the Center for Whale Research arrived at her side, the calf was dead.

"The good news is that we've got a federal agency - NOAA Fisheries - [that said] we're going to do something about it and went out and put together this plan to rescue her, feed her fish, get her hydrated, get some meds in her. See if we can save this whale".

"The fish would be distributed into the water in front of her", she said.

He said he hopes the situation stokes momentum for fundamental change, such as taking down the Lower Snake River dams to boost salmon runs.

Grieving orca still swimming with her dead calf off Washington coast