Emaciated orca to be given de-wormer after lab test

SEATTLE — An emaciated J-pod orca will be given de-wormer and an antibiotic to help with a possible parasite infestation.

NOAA released lab results Friday from fecal samples collected last weekend from the ailing J-50, also known as Scarlet, and two other orcas in her pod.

Results show moderate levels of a parasite that NOAA said usually isn’t a problem for healthy animals, but in emaciated animals, can penetrate the stomach lining and introduce a bacterial infection into the bloodstream or internal organs.

Although not sure that the sample came from J-50, the veterinary team has updated her treatment plan to include de-wormer and an antibiotic to help rid her of the parasites and possibly gain the weight she’s lost.

Researchers said the pod was still out in the ocean by Vancouver Island and they couldn’t reach it safely.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other partners will continue to watch for the J-pod’s return to the Salish Sea, so researchers can carry out their plan, according to KOMO News.

Also on Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee’s task force on the plight of the southern resident orcas released new recommendations for boaters.

The guidelines say that depth finders, fish finders and other tools that emit frequencies that interfere with the orcas’ ability to find salmon should be turned to 200-kHz setting. If using a single-frequency, 50khz depth sounder, boaters are asked to turn it off except when it is needed for safe navigation because orcas are especially sensitive to that frequency,

Slower speeds

They also ask boaters to slow down and avoid creating a wake within sight of orcas.

The governor’s task force is expected to submit a more comprehensive list of recommendations by Oct. 1.

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