Teams of scientists and researchers trying to help save a struggling young Southern Resident orca may have discovered what is ailing her.
NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region reports that results from health samples are coming in from several top labs around the US.
In a fecal sample collected last weekend from J16, J42, and J50, they found moderate levels of Contracaecum, a nematode parasite sometimes found in marine mammals.
The NOAA says the worm is not usually a problem for healthy animals, but can be if they are emaciated or otherwise compromised such as J50.
The parasite can penetrate the stomach lining, introducing bacterial infection to the bloodstream, or it can bore into internal organs.
Scientists say while they can’t be certain that the sample in question came from J50, the veterinarian team has updated its treatment priorities.
It will now include a dewormer, as well as an antibiotic. They say both have proven successful in other marine mammals.
They believe the updated treatment should further help J50 by reducing the bacterial and parasitic burdens on her system.
That should allow her to start regaining some of the weight she has lost.
NOAA says they have yet to start the updated treatment because JPod remains in open waters off Vancouver Island, beyond their reach.