Ailing orca J50 likely dead: whale researcher

Christopher Davidson
September 14, 2018

"It was striking to me how thin she was. she is the thinnest killer whale I've ever seen", said Gaydos.

Teams are searching for an ailing, critically endangered orca that a scientist who tracks the whale population in the Pacific Northwest says is likely dead.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research said Thursday he believes the whale known as J50 "is gone".

Balcomb said he has a boat out looking for her and would join in the search later in the day to make an official announcement. Her family was seen Wednesday but J50 was not among them.

A sick killer whale that has been the subject of an global effort to provide her with medical treatment is missing from her family group and hasn't been seen for days.

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"(She) definitely captured our hearts, but I don't want to leave you with any false hopes, this is a very sick whale", he said.

"We have alerted the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which is a tremendous resource in such situations. We greatly appreciate all the help and concern".

The agency had planned to rescue the whale, and to more aggressively intervene to try to save her life, including captive rehabilitation.

J50 has been dosed with antibiotics and anti-worming medication but so far efforts to treat her have been unsuccessful and they've noted a decline in her condition over the last month.

The southern resident killer whales, which are so endangered there are just 75 individuals left, swim between Canadian and USA waters to Seattle and Vancouver ports through busy shipping lanes.

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