WATCH: She is alive. That’s the good news. Last seen Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. waters off the Olympic Peninsula, ailing orca J50 is with her mother, J16. Both orcas are members of the endangered southern resident population, JPod. Scientists are engaged in a rescue mission to save her life. And time is of the essence. But as Mary Griffin reports, that will only happen if she is in U.S. waters.
This is the latest picture of J50, the ailing female orca from JPod.
Taken by DFO researchers in the waters off Port Renfrew Tuesday afternoon, it’s proof she is still alive.
Michael Milstein, a public affairs officer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said there was a lingering question of whether or not she was still alive.
“The news from last night is still reverberating. People are excited that J50, and her mother, in fact were spotted off the west coast of Vancouver Island,” Milstein said.
The three and a half-year-old female orca is the focus of intense international attention.
She’s one of only 75 southern resident orcas remaining.
Skipper Mark Malleson carefully lines up the zodiac to take the next load of tourists out.
He’s one of a network of local naturalists watching out for J50.
“I saw J-50 and J-pod on Friday, last Friday,” Malleson said.
Malleson reported the birth of a calf to J35 in July, and is the only person to have seen that baby alive.
The Department of Fisheries reported Wednesday afternoon that she is still carrying her baby.
“I would certainly let them know of the group’s whereabouts. whether it’s to document J-50, or document them all for the studies they are doing out here,” Malleson said.
Scientists need to get close to J50 to assess her health than treat her with antibiotics for a possible infection.
The Americans are ready, but Canada’s Department of Fisheries does not have the necessary permits.
“We understand that Canada has a review process that they are following. And we’re supporting that as much as we can,” Milstein said. “But we also feel like the crews in the field have the support, and the go-ahead that they need to do that first step.”