Photo courtesy of NOAA

Scientists are preparing to administer another round of medications on a sick orca off the coast of Vancouver Island after the first round seemed to show positive results.

The first dose of antibiotics to battle parasitic worms was administered to the southern resident orca J50, known as Scarlet, on August 9 and since then, researchers have noticed slight improvements in her condition.

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Response teams saw the whale actively socializing with the rest of the pod in the Salish Sea, where she fell behind the pod slightly but saw her rejoin her mother and brother to forage near the west side of San Juan Island.

The four-year-old whale has concerned researchers with her slow-moving behaviour and extreme weight loss, but are now hoping the second dose of medication may lead to a clean bill of health.

Scientists believe the first dose was only partially administered, which is why researchers are now gearing up to administer a second.

“The darts they used before they were able to get a partial injection of antibiotic into the animal before it bounced back out. What they’d like to use is what’s called a collared dart, and that dart will remain and make sure it gets a whole dose into the animal but it will remain there for a couple of days before it will fall out. So that’s kind of a little bit a different injection type but we want to make sure we get a full injection of the antibiotics and the dewormer,” said Jim Milbury, U.S. NOAA spokesperson.

Photo courtesy of NOAA

The southern resident orca population remains endangered with only 75 whales left. The NOAA says it will continue to monitor the pod, and whale J35, which drew international attention after carrying her dead calf for hundreds of kilometers.

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