Ill orca improving, researchers cautiously optimistic

SEATTLE (AP) — Several months after researchers feared the worst for an ailing Puget Sound orca, the whale known as J7 has been spotted in an improved condition.

KING-TV reports whale researchers with the Center for Whale Research observed the 42-year-old orca swimming with the J Pod in the northern Haro Strait on Friday.

In a Monday update , the team said her condition appeared to have improved since her last sighting around the beginning of the year. However, the team said her breath was awful and that they remain cautiously optimistic that she will survive.

J17 was last seen with a condition called peanut head, a sign of starvation in orcas.

The southern resident population was at a 35-year low after three deaths in 2018 but a calf born at the beginning of the year is believed to still be alive.