Emaciated killer whale J50 spotted off Vancouver Island

Emaciated killer whale J50 spotted off Vancouver Island

J50 has been spotted in the waters off Vancouver Island.

J50 has been spotted in the waters off Vancouver Island. Photo credit: Center for Whale Research.

The endangered and emaciated killer whale that scientists believe is near death has been spotted swimming in the waters off Vancouver Island near Race Rocks.

Researchers from the U.S. confirmed the sighting of J50 on Thursday afternoon. They will be attempting to assess her condition. However, choppy conditions with intermittent fog has impeded efforts.

J50 is one of only 75 southern resident killer whales that swim in the coastal waters between British Columbia and California. She has reproductive potential and scientists say she could play a vital role in her species

Canadian and American scientists have developed a plan to feed her salmon medicated with antibiotics and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has received a permit application from the U.S. for activities to proceed in Canadian waters. DFO is prepared to issue permits should researchers be able to proceed with a health assessment.

“We are working closely with NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and are considering every possible option available to us to save this whale. Our decision will be evidence-based and we will act quickly together with our partners when the conditions are right to move ahead with any action. These conditions include: weather, location, the whale’s health and the unknown condition we are treating.

In the meantime, we are looking carefully at the options that have been proposed to date. As there are only approximately 76 Southern Resident killer whales left, we must take into consideration whether our actions risk harming either J50 or her pod. We will be ready to respond quickly should the intervention need to occur in Canadian waters,” DFO said in a statement.

DFO is asking people to stay clear of the Race Rocks area.

With files from The Canadian Press


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