Orca From Same Pod Where Mother Carried Lost Calf Presumed Dead

The three-year-old whale known as J50 or Scarlet has not been seen for several days despite sightings of her mother and the rest of their pod. The sick southern resident killer whale, also known as Scarlet, was last seen lagging a half mile to a mile (0.8 to 1.6 kilometres) behind her family group on September 7 and her condition had not improved. The whales have been struggling with a dearth of their preferred prey, salmon, as well as pollution and boat noise.

Whale experts feared the orca was dead earlier this month when J50 lagged behind her family and went missing.

Without J50, the population is now down to 74 members - their numbers reached almost 100 in 1995 - and many of its existing female members are nearing the age where they will no longer be able to reproduce, Ken Balcomb, founder and principal investigator of the Center for Whale Research, told The Washington Post in July. According to the Seattle Times, J50, who was always small for her age, had been losing weight since 2017.

Ken Balcomb, of the Center for Whale Research, confirmed Thursday that he had declared the orca known as J50 dead after she failed to appear with her family in recent days. "If we are unable to restore the salmon that these orcas need, more whales will starve to death".

The southern resident killer whales, which are so endangered there are just 75 individuals left, swim between Canadian and USA waters to Seattle and Vancouver ports through busy shipping lanes.

The whales are in such bad shape that experts prepared last-ditch efforts to save the emaciated almost 4-year-old known as J50.

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The high-profile cases have focused global attention on the plight of southern resident killer whales, whose numbers have dwindled to 75 and now - if J50 has died - to 74 in three pods.

The young orca, once known for her propensity to breach by launching her body out of the water, has become sickly and emaciated in recent months. But, he said the USA and Canadian governments plan to continue searching Friday on the chance she's still alive. "This is a very sick whale".

"We are increasing water surveillance in hopes of finding her", he said on Twitter. We have alerted the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which is a tremendous resource in such situations.

"The Center for Whale Research has had a vessel on the water looking for J50 for the past three days".

With J50′s presumed death, there are now just 74 southern resident orcas left in the wild.

Though J50 has been declared dead, federal officials said the search will continue on Friday, TIME reported.

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