Sheila Thornton, lead killer whale research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said they are anxious that the time and energy it spends carrying the body could take away from foraging or feeding.
Attention turned to J50 after another calf in her pod died on July 24. "There was no sign of the groups waiting for her ... she was mostly with her mom as well as her siblings". Apart from the nutrition concern for Tahlequah, the carcass is starting to fall apart, but the mom is keen on keeping with her the dead calf.
Balcomb speculates J35 will drop her baby soon, after carrying it for more than 1,000 miles. "So we basically have to get within five metres of the whale", Hanson said.
Biologists from the Center for Whale Research investigated and found the calf was only briefly alive, and has since been decomposing.
Because of the tight bond between Tahlequah and her calf as well as the bond shared by the rest of the pod there is no plan to take the calf away. The idea of removing the calf from her mother is "not on the table", according to Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with NOAA.
Scientists are also anxious about another member of the endangered orcas.More news: Man United wins opener against Leicester City
During the first three days of her calf's death, the orca swam with her pod but carried along her baby's almost 400 pound body.
Scientists say the animal has now fallen behind her pod and is at risk of becoming isolated. NOAA would apply for the feeding permit if conditions are right, said Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries' recovery coordinator for the whales. The fact that her body was likely prepped for lactation, too, means she has extra lipids in her blubber that will sustain her for a while.
"The assumption is she could be fortified like a dolphin", Noren said.
While the other whales were actively foraging for food, Haulena said they couldn't tell if she had been eating. The situation is most certainly urgent, especially considering that this sick orca is one of the mere 75 individuals of her kind left on Earth.
For now, researchers and veterinarians working to treat J50 will continue to monitor J35, looking closely at her for skin lesions, any changes in the way she swims or surfaces or major changes in her breath, which could indicate that she is metabolizing lipids. The orca may also have an infection.
The veterinarian would make an assessment and possibly give her broad-spectrum antibiotics. She also had foul breath - indicating a serious health problem.More news: Bairstow and Woakes put England in strong position
Experts say Springer's case was different because she was isolated. The blow of a young whale is only about a foot and a half high, so winds must be calm and the whales close in order to collect a sample. "If they're stopping to forage or socialize, that's a much better opportunity".
Orcas are highly sociable and live in large groups, known as pods, often with dozens of other animals.
Many have expressed surprise at just how powerfully watching Tahlequah has affected them.
Just like humans, they're still mourning, which ultimately show how emotional and intelligent killer whales are.
"Our goal is to see if this is a viable option to deliver medication", she said. She was quite adept as moving around.
"Yet a lot of times in society that type of grief goes unrecognized", she said.More news: Hurricane Hector to pass just south of Hawaii