Emaciated orca J50 treated with antibiotics

Cause of ailment still unknown

  • Friday, August 10, 2018 11:04am
  • News

Conditions aligned Thursday for a veterinary team to assess J50, an emaciated killer whale that is part of the endangered Southern Resident population.

The J-Pod hadn’t been spotted for several days prior to being observed Thursday off the Canadian coast.

Marty Haulena, lead veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium, said the team spent six hours following J50, also known as Scarlet, from Canadian waters to the San Juan Islands. He said it was the first time he had laid eyes on her.

“It was dramatic how thin she is,” He said. “She’s just a very, very skinny whale.”

No one knows what is causing Scarlet’s condition, but the team administered antibiotics via a dart – the first time medicine has been administered to a killer whale.

Haulena said the strategy was to “treat what is treatable” until the team has a better idea of what’s ailing J50.

To that end, they managed to get a breath sample from her, which will be analyzed to look for diseases like pneumonia.

Respiratory illnesses are falling further down the list of potential ailments, however. Haulena said Scarlet did not display any weakness or inability to get to the surface while being observed. Though she often swan alone, she was able to catch up with the pod when desired.

The veterinary team will now focus on observing food behavior, Haulena said. They’re hoping to observe Scarlet while she eats in an effort to see if vomiting follows ingestion.

“We don’t have a great diagnosis on her. We know that she has something significant going on,” Haulena said, while earlier he stated, “The facts remain that other whales that have been in this condition have not survived.”

Feeding option

One plan is to feed Scarlet salmon from a boat until the orca regains some weight. Lynne Barre, NOAA fisheries recovery coordinator, said that preparations have been complete and vessels are standing by to initiate that plan. Several conditions would have to be met, however, for the team to initiate a trial, including weather, which side of the border Scarlet is on and whether the team would be able to observe her response.

“A lot of pieces would have to come together for the right conditions to initiate that trial,” Barre said. “Our goal there is to see if this is a viable option to provide oral medication.”

With a storm system coming into the area, that option may not be viable for another couple of days.

More in News

Port Orchard Police Report

Leaving the scene and leaving a mark at department store

Police: Brothers ran pill manufacturing operation out of Bremerton apartment

A witness called one brother a “chemical genius,” prosecutors say.

Residents get facts, air opinions at SKSD forum

Event precedes voting on schools propositions

Driver safety course in Bremerton

Classes take place Nov. 5-6 at Bremerton Senior Center.

Poulsbo Police Department blotter | Oct. 15—21

Arrest List 10/15/2018 - 01:00 - VUCSA-POSS - AMPHET, METHAMPHET, THEFT -… Continue reading

Road Report

Selected Kitsap County roadways are under repair and construction this week.

The lounge area at Vibe Coworks’ new location boasts ample room in the lounge area. Austin Flink, RFM Viz Lab. Courtesy Vibe Coworks.
Vibe Coworks to hold grand opening event

Poulsbo’s new shared workspace, Vibe Coworks, will hold its grand opening celebration… Continue reading

Power outage closes Sunnyslope Elementary

Classes, after-school activities are canceled today, Oct. 22

Poulsbo First Lutheran celebrates 106 years of lutefisk

Poulsbo First Lutheran Church celebrated its 106th Lutefisk Dinner on Saturday. Community… Continue reading

Most Read