NOAA’s Chris Yates says the objective is for the young orca to survive in the wild and contribute to the recovery of southern resident killer whales, without putting the rest of the orcas in her pod at risk.
Veterinarians believe they have exhausted treatment options in the field that included twice injecting the free-swimming whale with antibiotics.
J50 is one of just 75 of the fish-eating orcas that spend time in Pacific Northwest waters. Another in the same pod, known as J35, triggered international sympathy this summer when she kept the body of her dead calf afloat in waters for more than two weeks.
Nearly two months after an international team of experts began taking extraordinary measures to save a young sick orca, the critically endangered whale is skinnier than ever.
Now NOAA Fisheries and its partners are weighing whether to intervene further to help the orca known as J50.
Options could include temporarily capturing the orca, treating her on the spot and releasing her, or holding her for a short time for rehabilitation before returning her to the wild.
NOAA Fisheries says veterinarians believe they have exhausted remote treatment options in the field, including giving her antibiotics. Experts say it’s unlikely she’ll survive.
The agency says they’ll rescue the orca only if she becomes stranded or separated from the rest of her pod.
Officials have scheduled two meetings in Washington state this weekend to hear from the public.