Missing southern resident killer whale J50 declared dead by scientists

J50 and family

J50 and family

He said J50 was last seen Friday afternoon off the west side of the islands and hasn't been seen since.

Efforts to find the sick young creature - which is from a critically endangered population of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest - have come up empty handed.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research in Washington state said the southern resident killer whale known as J50 hasn't been seen for several days and he believes she died between last Friday and Monday.

The Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Washington said the last known sighting of J50 was September 7.

The Center for Whale Research noted Thursday that the pod of whales had been struggling in recent years due to a lack of chinook salmon, their primary food source. The pod has not produced viable offspring in three years.

She was a spunky whale with an independent streak, Giles said, spending time off on her own while her family foraged. They're not sure if Scarlet chowed down on the easy prey, but even if she did, her health continued to decline.

In 2016, scientists found evidence that whales and dolphins hold "vigils" for their dead.

A scientist says there is "no chance" a sick killer whale at the centre of an global effort to provide the orca with medical treatment will be found alive.

Officials had hoped that J50, born in December 2014, might eventually reproduce and assist with the species' recovery.

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J50 would be the second death in the critically endangered family of southern resident orca whales in less than two months. The search at this point is just a matter of protocol, he said.

On Wednesday, experts intensified their efforts, announcing a last-ditch attempt to save J50: Capturing her and treating her in temporary captivity until she could be rehabilitated, the Associated Press reported.

An ailing killer whale that became the focus of cross-border rescue efforts is missing and feared dead. But no one has seen her in days. "Teams were on the water searching yesterday and are increasing a broad transboundary search today with our on-water partners and counterparts in Canada".

But, he said, because the USA and Canadian governments have so many resources devoted to finding her, they planned to continue searching today.

Michael Milstein, a spokesman for NOAA Fisheries, said boats and planes in the US and Canada are looking but that Balcomb usually makes such calls on missing whales because he keeps the population data. 'We haven't given up hope'.

Milstein told the Seattle Times that those participating in the search "are not setting a timeline" for how long it may go on.

The distinctive black-and-white orcas, known as southern resident killer whales, have struggled since they were listed as an endangered species in the USA and Canada well over a decade ago.

"Watching J50 during the past three months is what extinction looks like when survival is threatened for all by food deprivation and lack of reproduction", the center's statement said.

The message, the Cente for Whale Research said in a website post, is that extinction is looming "while the humans convene task forces and conference calls that result in nothing, or worse than nothing, diverting attention and resources from solving the underlying ecological problems".

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