A dose of antibiotics was also administered through a dart, he said.
The three-and-a-half-year-old orca known as J50 is one of 75 remaining southern resident killer whales that spend their summer foraging for salmon off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington state. It is among a handful of tests they are running.
J50 is in the same pod as J35, a female killer whale that has been carrying the body of her dead calf since it died more than two weeks ago. J50 is the sick whale that a team of experts are hoping to save.
The group will prioritize short-term and long-term actions, many of which are certain to focus on recovering the prized salmon that the fish-eating whales like to eat. Researchers with the Whale Sanctuary Project took a sample of the fish scales so they can later genetically track whether the whales consume that fish, while other crews with the Lummi tribe scooped the salmon out of a large bin and sent it into the water.
"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Ms Giles said. "It struck me very dramatically". The ailing orca was swimming with her mom Wednesday.
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Haulena said they watched J50 rejoin her group on Thursday. As of August 9, The Seattle Times reports that Tahlequah was still clinging to her baby, keeping its 400-pound (180-kilogram) body afloat with her head, coming up for air and swimming in a tight circle behind her pod for a few breaths before diving down deep to lift her daughter's body to the surface again. Apart from the nutrition concern for Tahlequah, the carcass is starting to fall apart, but the mom is keen on keeping with her the dead calf.
No intervention is planned, she said, but they will monitor her condition.
Attention turned to J50 after another calf in her pod died on July 24.
The youngest of the group, the southern resident killer whale that's known to marine scientists as J50 hasn't been seen for days, and even before she vanished, experts were anxious about her deteriorating health.
Sheila Thornton, lead killer whale research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said they are anxious that the time and energy it spends carrying the body could take away from foraging or feeding.
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Further interaction with J Pod could be hampered over the next few days by a weather system moving into the area.
The orcas are distinct from other killer whales because they eat salmon rather than marine mammals.
Experts have been watching the young whale lose weight since June and they took the novel action in an effort to prevent the loss of more reproductive potential within the population.
"While we wait for the results, we are treating what is treatable", said Haulena. "What is visible to us is significant decrease in body condition". The only problem is, they need to figure out how to do so without getting the orca used to people or boats, something which would ultimately end up interfering with the animal's ability to survive in the wild.
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