Orphaned orca's bags are packed

An orphaned female orca has passed all medical tests and is ready to be reunited with her family in Canadian waters, officials said.

“She’s got a ticket, her bags are packed and we’re just waiting for word from the Canadians,” Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said on Tuesday.

Gorman said US researchers gave results of the orca’s final medical tests to their Canadian counterparts over the weekend. The whale has no communicable diseases, and an itchy skin condition and internal problem that made her breath smell like paint thinner have cleared up.

“She’s behaving like a healthy, active young whale,” Gorman

said. Officials hope the 2-year-old, 558-kilogram killer whale will rejoin her family, or pod, when they make their annual summer visit to waters east of Vancouver Island.

Canadian researchers and veterinarians will decide by Friday whether the whale can return home, said Michelle McCombs, a representative for Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“What they’re looking at is whether there would be a risk to the wild population,” she said.
“We want to make sure the animal is healthy and ready for transport.”

The whale was first spotted in mid-January. She was captured June 13 because of concerns about her health and because she was endangering herself and boaters. She has since been under close watch in a holding pen in Puget Sound.

Researchers believe her pod left her behind after her mother died, and she found her way into Puget Sound. - Sapa-AP

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