UPDATE: Officials considering rescuing sick orca J50 for medical treatment

Josh Duncan | September 12, 2018 in Provincial

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(UPDATE: Sept. 12 @ 1:25 p.m.) - Just over a week after hitting J50 with a shot of antibiotics, it looks like biologists may have to resort to rescuing the young orca to administer further treatment.

Officials thought the antibiotics would be enough, but the extremely ill killer whale is still emaciated and once again lagging behind her pod.

If it comes to a rescue, officials would focus on giving J50 medical care and then release her back into the wild.

Photo Credit: Canadian Press

If experts who assess the whale determine she can't be treated or rehabilitated, she'll be returned to J Pod to spend the rest of her life with her family. 

J50 is one of just 75 remaining southern resident killer whales and her health has declined significantly over the last few months.

Experts believe they have exhausted all reasonable remote treatment options.

With files from the Canadian Press.

(Original story: Sept. 4 @ noon) - A young orca appears to have a new lease on life thanks to biologists in the Pacific Northwest.

They’ve managed to deliver what’s believed to a be a full dose of antibiotics to the emaciated killer whale, who was spotted Monday between Victoria and Seattle.

Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries West Coast
A response team tracks part of J50s pod in August.

Concern rose for the young orca, known as J50, over the long weekend when the four-year-old whale was not seen with the rest of her pod.

According to Michael Millstein with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Portland, the orca is now staying close to her mother.

Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries West Coast
J50 with her pod

She’s showing much better health and activity as the pod of whales moves towards the mouth of the Fraser River to continue foraging for salmon.

J50 had been in poor condition for months and her death would have further devastated the dwindling population of southern resident killer whales where only 75 orcas remain.

Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries West Coast
J50 in August, still keeping up with her pod but very emaciated.

Experts continue to track J50 with hopes of administering a deworming medication, and Millstein says another attempt may be made today.

For more information and constant updates on J50's status, click this link.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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