Officials monitoring orca spotted with fishing lure hanging from mouth

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FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. (AP) — Federal officials say they’re monitoring a killer whale near the San Juan Islands that appears to have a salmon lure hanging from its mouth.

NOAA Fisheries says the orca, a 12-year-old male known as J-39, does not appear to be injured. The lure is a “flasher,” a shiny, oblong-shaped lure, and it may be attached to a barbless hook.

The agency says it will provide additional money to the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor to further track the whale and assess its condition.

Barbara Bender, of a San Juan-based sailing charter company called All Aboard Sailing, photographed the lure on Aug. 1 and shared the pictures with the whale advocacy group Orca Network, which forwarded them to federal officials.

NOAA Fisheries says its worried about how the lure might affect the orca’s feeding and behavior, but the lure might come loose on its own.