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Team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea

Last Updated Aug 10, 2018 at 10:41 am EST

In this Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C. J50 is the sick whale that a team of experts are hoping to save by giving her antibiotics or feeding her live salmon at sea. The experts now have authorization to intervene with medical treatment in both U.S. and Canadian waters once the critically endangered orca shows up again in the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest. (Brian Gisborne/Fisheries and Oceans Canada via AP)

SEATTLE – A team of whale experts has injected an ailing killer whale with antibiotics in a rare emergency effort to save her.

NOAA Fisheries says the international team reached 3 1/2-year-old orca known as J50 Thursday in the waters near Washington state’s San Juan Island.

A veterinarian examined the orca. The team of experts gave her a dose of antibiotics through a dart and took a breath sample to help assess whether she has an infection.

NOAA says on Facebook that the team will decide next whether to feed the free-swimming whale live salmon from a boat. If things go well, the whale may then be given live salmon dosed with medication.

The orca is thin and in poor body condition. Another orca in the critically endangered group of killer whales has been pushing her dead calf in the water for more than two weeks, raising concerns about her health.