Help for sick killer whale

UPDATE: 11:40 a.m.

Scientists are reporting progress in the race to help an emaciated and endangered West Coast killer whale in the waters of the Salish Sea.

Biologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association in the United States have tweeted that the team caught up with J50 and her pod near San Juan Island off Washington state.

They were able to obtain a breath sample from the juvenile female orca to help assess any infection she might have and they also administered a dose of antibiotics.

The tweet says the next step is to decide if trial feeding of J50 should proceed, although it says that will depend on the location of the pod, as well as water and weather conditions.

J50 is one of just 75 remaining southern resident killer whales that swim the coastal waters between British Columbia and California, and the tweet describes her as "skinny and small," but keeping up with her mother and siblings.

Scientists want to do everything possible to keep J50 alive because of her reproductive potential and have developed a plan to feed her live salmon containing antibiotics.

That plan does not yet have approval for use in Canadian waters.

ORIGINAL: 6:50 a.m.

A team of whale experts has injected an ailing killer whale with antibiotics in a rare emergency effort to save her.

NOAA Fisheries says the international team reached 3 1/2-year-old orca known as J50 Thursday in the waters near Washington state's San Juan Island.

A veterinarian examined the orca. The team of experts gave her a dose of antibiotics through a dart and took a breath sample to help assess whether she has an infection.

NOAA says on Facebook that the team will decide next whether to feed the free-swimming whale live salmon from a boat. If things go well, the whale may then be given live salmon dosed with medication.

The orca is thin and in poor body condition. Another orca in the critically endangered group of killer whales has been pushing her dead calf in the water for more than two weeks, raising concerns about her health.

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