Feds still looking for wayward Alaska orcas

AP News
Posted: Oct 08, 2011 8:08 PM
Feds still looking for wayward Alaska orcas

Federal officials now say they're not so sure three killer whales that wandered far up a river in southwestern Alaska have returned to salt water.

Biologists were hopeful Friday that the orcas were out of danger because they didn't see the black and white whales during a flight over the Nushagak River.

But NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Julie Speegle says authorities received credible reports Saturday that the whales are still in fresh water. Biologists were searching the area by plane.

The trio, two adults and a juvenile, was disoriented, in danger of starvation and had developed a skin condition from spending three weeks in fresh water. Also, with temperatures in the area and the level of water in the river dropping, the chances for the whales to escape were quickly diminishing.