UPDATED: Sick orca J50 declared dead by 1 group while scientists remain hopeful

Only 74 southern resident killer whales remain

J50, the ailing killer whale that has been the centre of attention for Canadian and American scientists throughout the summer, has been declared dead by one – but not all – research groups involved in rescuing the orca.

Her last known sighting was Friday, Sept. 7, according to the latest update by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

READ MORE: Ailing orca at centre of international rescue efforts missing for days

The Center for Whale Research, which declared J50 dead on Thursday afternoon, said it has had a vessel on the water for the past three days on the lookout for J50 but were unsuccesful. All other members of her family have been spotted during these outings.

But NOAA nor the DFO have declared the orca dead just yet.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting aerial search and teams are searching by boat in likely locations in U.S. & Canadian waters. We have not given up,” NOAA said in a statement, urging anyone who sees the young orca to call the stranding hotline at 1-866-767-6114.

In previous updates, researchers have said it’s not unlike J50 to dissapear for several days before being spotted swimming alongside her mother.

The four year old has been suffering from parasitic worms and “peanut-head syndrome,” which means her head is smaller than her body due to malnutrition. Officials had been injecting J50 with broad-spectrum antibiotics, by way of dart gun, in hopes of bringing the ailing orca back to health.

WATCH: J50 injected with antibiotics

READ MORE: U.S., Canadian researchers consider capturing ailing orca J50

J50 is one of 75 southern killer whales left on the planet.

Capture plan considered earlier this week

A rescue operation involving “hands-on physical examination” was part of discussions earlier this week on next steps possible to help J50 and her JPod.

On Wednesday, NOAA and the DFO said capturing J50, a four-year-old orca suffering from starvation, would only be an option if it didn’t harm other whales in J Pod and is the only option to allow her to contribute to the recovery of the population.

“The overriding priority of rescue is to evaluate, treat and rehabilitate J50 to give her the greatest chance of survival while ensuring her return and reunification with her family as soon as possible,” the agency said at the time.

Just Posted

Plaques provide historical view of Salmon Arm landmarks

City heritage plaques added to Fletcher Park, Mount Ida Cemetery and Fairgrounds

In photos: Parade kicks off Girls Only Soccer Camp World Cup fun tournament

Players split into 11 countries for music and dance-filled parade, followed by tourney

Summerland Fall Fair to include zucchini race

Event is in honour of bobsleigh athlete Justin Kripps

South Shuswap residents kick waste collection concept to the curb

Area C residents prefer existing depot system, suggest more enforcement

Province attempting to ease concerns over caribou management

CSRD receives letter promising more consultation while chambers of commerce meet with minister

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry supply

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Survivorship Dragon Boat Team wins in Vernon

Team takes top spot in A division at festival

Kelowna car thief’s sentencing delayed

Stanley Nickason pled guilty car theft charges in B.C. Supreme Court

Development gives Kelowna community garden the boot

Glen Valley residents given a few days to break it down before land development

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

RDOS contributes funds to arts centre workshop

South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society wants input into proposed facility

World-famous sopranos to hold concert in Okanagan

Two Canadian sopranos are bringing their world-famous voices to the Okanagan for one night only

Kelowna RCMP release video of reckless theft out of Southwest Mission

“Their tactics were anything but subtle,” states Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey

Summerland Fall Fair to include zucchini race

Event is in honour of bobsleigh athlete Justin Kripps

Most Read