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Teams taking drastic measures to save a young, ailing killer whale loaded up two boats with live fish and rushed to waters near an island off Washington state Friday, preparing if needed to feed the critically endangered orca a day after injecting it with medicine.
But by early afternoon, it appeared the 3½-year-old female orca known as J50 was too far north in Canadian waters and that any trial feeding effort would not happen Friday, said Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who is leading response efforts on the water.
Team - US - Agency - Permit - Whale
The team led by the U.S. agency lacks a permit to feed the sick whale live salmon in Canadian waters, though it had one for medical treatment. NOAA would apply for the feeding permit if conditions are right, said Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries' recovery coordinator for the whales.
The team will decide in the field whether to feed the orca, which is emaciated and possibly suffering an infection, depending on a number of factors, including the animal's behavior and location, Barre told reporters.
Whale - Crews - Practice - Run - Feeding
With the whale not close by, crews did a practice run for the feeding, sending salmon through a turquoise tube off the back of a boat. Researchers with the Whale Sanctuary Project took a sample of the fish scales so they can later genetically track whether the whales consume that fish, while other crews with the Lummi tribe scooped the salmon out of a large bin and sent it into the water.
The whale was given a dose of antibiotics from a dart Thursday, and a veterinarian was able to do a health assessment. Marty Haulena, head veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium, thinks about half of the dose went into the young orca.
He says the whale is incredibly skinny but was swimming well and there were no...
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