Photo Credit: Brian Gisborne/Fisheries and Oceans Canada
An Orca whale knows no boundaries when it comes to U.S. and Canadian waters. However, it is this very little difference in location that could be a factor of life or death to a malnourished killer whale.
Scarlet also known as J-50, of the critically endangered Southern Residents population, has been monitored by the NOAA since the beginning of this month. After observation, scientists agree that she is in very poor condition and may not survive. But the NOAA, SeaWorld San Diego, and other organizations are exploring their options to provide medical attention and treatment to Scarlet.
As of Tuesday, Scarlet was swimming near Port Renfrew, B.C., on Vancouver Island, with her mother by her side. As of right now, no one on the Canadian side has applied to give Scarlet the medication that could help save her life. Luckily, the teams in the US have some experience with killer whales, and plan to provide antibiotics to her once she passes over the line.
The NOAA began speaking publicly about their plans earlier this week. Lynne Barre of NOAA’s Seattle office said, “it’s been an evolving process, of what the best approach is.” After assessing the whale, the NOAA’s first step would be to deliver antibiotics by dart-gun or pole, Barre explains. And as last in line of their possible actions, they have a new, experimental technique of feeding live, medicated fish to Scarlet.
A rotating team of veterinarians, including staff from SeaWorld San Diego and Dr. Martin Haulena of the Vancouver Aquarium, are on standby at the research station, awaiting the signal to act on the NOAA’s plan.
The personnel of SeaWorld San Diego have years of experience caring for killer whales at their facilities. With the knowledge from their team and the previous research they have conducted, they are prepared to do they can to help Scarlet.