Southern Resident Killer Whale Health Update

  CAPTION.  Aerial images of Southern Resident killer whale juvenile J50, taken in 2017 (left) and August 1st 2018 (right) for comparison. Note in the recent image she has lost body condition revealing a very thin profile, and noticeable loss of fat behind the head creating a “peanut head” appearance. Images obtained with an unmanned drone, piloted non-invasively >100ft above the whales under NMFS research permit #19091.

CAPTION. Aerial images of Southern Resident killer whale juvenile J50, taken in 2017 (left) and August 1st 2018 (right) for comparison. Note in the recent image she has lost body condition revealing a very thin profile, and noticeable loss of fat behind the head creating a “peanut head” appearance. Images obtained with an unmanned drone, piloted non-invasively >100ft above the whales under NMFS research permit #19091.

SR3's Marine Mammal Research Director, Dr. Holly Fearnbach, and her NOAA colleague Dr. John Durban, have succeeded in capturing overhead images of ailing Southern Resident killer whale youngster J50, during their emergency field effort to assess her condition. Building on collaborative field work with NOAA’s Cetacean Health and Life History Program and the Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute that has assessed J50’s condition since 2015 in her first year of life, these new images reveal her to be currently in a concerning state of poor body condition. We wanted to share this photo comparison with you while we await analyses from collaborative health assessments.

For more information about this collaborative study see https://swfsc.noaa.gov/news.aspx?ParentMenuId=147&id=23000