NOAA ends active search for J50, some still on watch

NOAA ends active search for J50, some still on watch

An image of J50 taken on Sept. 7 south of San Juan Island. (NOAA/Twitter).

An image of J50 taken on Sept. 7 south of San Juan Island. (NOAA/Twitter).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is ending its active search for presumed dead orca, J50.

The U.S. agency says the decision came after they failed to spot her following a dedicated effort over the last two days.

They add that the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network will remain on alert, and the U.S. Coast Guard is still on watch.

“J50 and J35 have [shone] a light on recovery at a time when it is more urgent than ever,” said NOAA on social media.

J50 was declared dead by experts on Thursday.

The news comes after a rollercoaster of emotions for researchers and the public since the start of Aug. when experts began to start helping J50 — after noticing her declining condition.

Aerial images of Southern Resident killer whale juvenile J50, taken on May 31, 2017 (left), August 1st 2018 (center) and September 3rd 2018 (right) for comparison. In the 2018 photos, she is in poor body condition revealing a very thin profile, and loss of fat behind the head creating a “peanut head” appearance that has become more prominent over the last month. Images by Holly Fearnbach (SR3) and John Durban (NOAA- research permit #19091.

On Aug. 9. for the first time experts successfully delivered antibiotics via a dart to treat the killer whale in the wild.

Another historic first was on Aug. 12 after they attempted to feed J50 by dropping salmon filled with medication through a tube in front of her.

Test conducted eventually came back as possibly indicating she had parasitic worms, unfortunately, experts failed to deliver them before she disappeared.

She was last seen on Sep. 7th lagging behind her pod, and not improving. Also before her disappearance researchers were thinking of possibly capturing the whale to provide further treatment.

J50 had been declared deceased before, on Sept. 3 after she had not been spotted. Just hours after the announcement she was sighted in the Juan de Fuca Strait between Canada and the U.S.

Although as time continues to grow, many are concluding that Scarlet has died. The population of the endangered southern resident killer whales is now at 74.

Her survival was also important because of her reproductive potential.

READ MORE: Orca J50 declared dead, and hope is fading for the future of the endangered southern resident killer whales

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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