Veterinarians in the field will decide whether to give the ailing orca antibiotics, which would last between 10 and 14 days, using either a dart injector or a long pole syringe.
They spotted J35 while searching for another of the 75 southern resident killer whales, labelled an endangered species in both Canada and the United States.
"I am absolutely shocked and heartbroken", Deborah Giles, research scientist for University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca told The Seattle Times. It is among a handful of tests they are running. Individual results could take months to come back.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is working closely with the US Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to determine the best way to proceed.
Marty Haulena, head veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium, thinks about half of the dose went into the young orca.
They have called for the removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River to restore salmon runs. Because of how long she had been doing this, the pressing concerns if she's still eating or if she's been given food by other members of the pod are starting to heavily louden. "It struck me very dramatically".
J-50 was "skinny and small" but was observed keeping up with her mother and siblings when she had been lethargic in the past. The ailing orca was swimming with her mom Wednesday. She was quite adept as moving around. "Can we do it when she is a bit separated from the group?"
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This is the latest troubling sign for a population already at its lowest in more than three decades.
Haulena said that he does not suspect that respiratory disease is a factor in J50's illness.
"It is very possible she has succumbed at this point and we may never see her again", Rowles said. 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. "That is good news ... the pneumonia side of things is slipping down the list of why she is in the condition she is in". The mother, named Tahlequah or J35, was first spotted on July 24, when the newborn died after just an hour.
Another female orca in the same pod has triggered an worldwide outpouring as she clings to the body of her dead calf that died two weeks ago. There's a possibility researchers won't be able to get close enough to the pod until Sunday at the earliest.
"This was our first opportunity in almost a week of trying to get near the whale", said Haulena.
It's sometimes hard to find causal relationships in the behavior of nonhuman animals, but there's something about grief: We know it - and we feel it - when we see it. The animals will cling onto the lifeless bodies of their offspring for days and will try to keep them safe from predators.