Mother Orca Spotted Carrying Dead Calf For 17th Day

A baby orca whale was pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria British Columbia. The new orca died soon after being born and was seen on Tuesday

An global team of experts has successfully administered antibiotics to ailing young orca J50 in an emergency effort to save her life, an apparent first for an orca in the wild.

About two weeks ago, a heartbreaking picture of an orca mother carrying her dead calf tugged on the heartstrings of the Internet. He and others followed the whale on the water for about six hours Thursday and got a breath sample to analyze whether she might have bacteria or fungus in her airway.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said its effort will involve shooting antibiotics in the orca to aid with recovery and using a local tribe to feed them fish that has medicine, a rare practice that has not been tried in the wild before.

Besides the mother, researchers with Fisheries and Ocean Canada spotted another member of the same pod on Wednesday, 3 ½-year old whale known as J50, who is emaciated. By the time biologists from the Center for Whale Research arrived at her side, the calf was dead.

U.S. biologists are racing to find the underweight 3-year-old animal to administer antibiotics either through food or by injection, but she could be dead or in Canada.

Several recent scientific papers and publications have documented grieving behavior in whales and dolphins, and scientists working in the Salish Sea have themselves witnessed similar sad sights of mothers carrying deceased calves.

As Tahlequah carries her deceased calf for a 17th straight day, and concerns mount about her health, taking the calf away is not an option because of the tight bond between Tahlequah and the rest of the pod to her baby - dead or alive, experts say. Thornton added that the calf is still "surprisingly intact".

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The whales face nutritional stress over a lack of Chinook salmon as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances.

The last time a southern resident birthed a calf that lived more than a few months was L123 in November, 2015.

"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.

"It is very possible that she has succumbed at this point and that we may never see her again", Rowles told reporters Tuesday.

People from around the world are following the trials of the southern resident orca clan, down to only 75 animals.

Since then, an adult male orca went missing in June and is presumed dead.

The task force is considering a range of efforts, from increasing hatchery production of salmon, training more private boats to help respond to oil spills, and prioritizing areas where important habitat can be restored. A report is due later this year. It's unclear if the whale has been eating, and scientists told the outlet her vast swim could very well be depleting her energy reserves. It was fed live salmon in the pen.

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