Six days after the last known sighting of J50, an emaciated killer whale who has been closely monitored by scientists in Canada and the U.S., some researchers believe the orca has died.
The Center for Whale Research, which monitors orcas, say all of the other members of her family have been spotted. But J50, who was believed to have a parasitic worm, has not been seen.
Watching J50 during the past three months is what extinction looks like when survival is threatened for all by food deprivation and lack of reproduction.
Not only are the Southern Resident killer whales dying and unable to reproduce sufficiently, but also their scarce presence in the Salish Sea is an indication that adequate food is no longer available for them here, or along the coast.
The Center believes there is an urgent need to restore natural Chinook salmon runs in order to avoid more deaths and even extinction of orcas.
We have known for twenty years that these fish, in particular, are essential to the SRKW diet. Chief Seattle was right: ‘All things are connected.’ Humans are connected, too.
J50 has been watched closely ever since she was born in 2014 and recently came to worldwide attention when she carried her dead calf for weeks in a move some observers interpreted as intense grief.
Photo of J50 and family (J16s), shot on September 3, 2018 by Dave Ellifrit