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Endangered orca that sparked international rescue plan gets first treatment

Endangered orca that sparked international rescue plan gets first treatment
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In this Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C. (Brian Gisborne/Fisheries and Oceans Canada via AP)

Published Friday, August 10, 2018 10:07AM EDT

VANCOUVER -- 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.
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