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

Shuswap bottle drive to support pediatric cancer research

Young cancer patient doing her best to help others with the disease that hits one in 333 kids

Regional district directors’ pay conflict resolved in new bylaw

11th-hour attempt for more by CSRD electoral area directors fails

Race is on for Shuswap late-run sockeye salmon

New estimates say about 750,000 sockeye will spawn on the Adams River, similar to 2014 dominant run

In photos: Ready, set, roll!

Friendship Day Soap Box Derby excitement in downtown Salmon Arm

Iconic Shuswap sternwheeler undergoing work for return to service

Sicamous business owner Mike Helfrick hopes to offer dinner tours on historic vessel

Weekday weather update

A look at your Okanagan-Shuswap weekday weather for Sept. 24

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Don’t feed birds in the parking lot

Vernon wildlife control services owner says feeding ducks and geese, or any wildlife, is bad

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read