Ailing orca at centre of international rescue efforts missing for days

U.S. and Canadian researchers last saw J50 on Friday, Sept. 7, and have since spotted her JPod

J50, a sick and emaciated killer whale at the centre of international rescue efforts, hasn’t been seen with her Jpod – which includes her mother – for five days, according to U.S. and Canadian researchers.

The four-year-old killer whale, described as strikingly skinny by marine biologists, has typically been spotted swimming near her mother. She is one of the 75 remaining southern killer whales in the world.

But, despite favourable conditions this week, both the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologists have yet to spot J50. She was last seen Sept. 7.

READ MORE: U.S., Canadian researchers consider capturing ailing orca J50

“Teams were on the water searching yesterday and are increasing a broad transboundary search today,” NOAA said in an update.

Teams are ready to respond if J50 is located and requires medical attention, the DFO said in a statement.

Yesterday, researchers said they’re considering a rescue mission for the ailing orca that would involve capturing, treating and then releasing her back to her family. This would only happen if she was if she became stranded or separated from her pod, or beached.

The West Coast Marine mammal Stranding Network has been notified, NOAA said, and airline crews flying out of the San Juan Islands were keeping watch.

Anyone who spots J50 can call the reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

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