Exam reveals orca fetus likely died before mother

Dec 11, 2014, 2:50 PM | Updated: 3:06 pm

A detailed examination reveals the likely cause of the death of a pregnant orca found in the waters off B.C. this month.

The necropsy on the mammal, identified as J-32, last weekend revealed that the killer whale’s near-term fetus died first, and likely contributed to its mother’s death because she couldn’t expel it, according to findings released Thursday. The whale was found drifting in the tide in the Strait of Georgia, north of Nanaimo, B.C.

A pathologist with the Center for Whale Research said there was also evidence the 19-year-old orca had an inadequate diet for an extended period of time. Tissue samples were sent away for analysis.

The number of whales in the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population has dwindled from 92-to-77 in recent years, according to Orca Relief Citizens Alliance. It’s believed that there are about one-dozen reproductively viable females remaining.

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Exam reveals orca fetus likely died before mother