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In Photos: Response Teams Try To Save Starving Killer Whale

Team effort

Orca rescue

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

Response teams from the U.S. and Canada worked together to execute a plan to save Scarlet.

Feeding drial

Orca rescue

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

A Lummi Nation boat slipped live salmon into the water through a long tube device, hoping to entice Scarlet to eat.

Questionable appetite

Orca rescue

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

Response teams served salmon to Scarlet from the back of their boat, but they're unsure if she ate any of the fish.

Live fish

Orca rescue

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

Live, farm-raised chinook salmon were dropped in the water for Scarlet to feed on. It's unclear if she actually ate any of the fish.

On Call

Orca rescue

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

Response teams were poised for the right opportunity to collect breath and fecal samples from Scarlet.

Breath sample

breath sample

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

Researchers used a long pole with a petri dish at the end to collect a sample of the air Scarlet exhales out her blowhole.

Quick exhale

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

When Scarlet exhales, the bacteria in her breath sticks to the petri dish researchers held above her head.

Close watch

Orca rescue

(Image credit: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries permit #18786)

Scarlet was spotted off the west side of San Juan Island near Lime Kiln Lighthouse on Aug. 11, 2018.

Kimberly Hickok
Kimberly Hickok

Kimberly has a bachelor's degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University, a master's degree in biology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a former reference editor for Live Science and Space.com. Her work has appeared in Inside Science, News from Science, the San Jose Mercury and others. Her favorite stories include those about animals and obscurities. A Texas native, Kim now lives in a California redwood forest.