Read it an weep – a male orca in his prime was killed by an infection from an embedded tag in his dorsal fin. From this document (please see the end for more information on the tagging program):
National Marine Fisheries Service, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada and the Animal Health Center, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Canada investigated the recent stranding of a resident killer whale.
This adult male killer whale was identified as L95, a 20 year old whale. The animal had been tagged by National Marine Fisheries Service using a satellite-linked limpet-style tag approximately 5 weeks prior to death.
After a thorough necropsy and investigation including an expert review of findings there was sufficient evidence to implicate the tag attachment site as a source of fungal infection to the whale.
This fungal infection contributed to illness in the whale and played a contributory role in its death. Seven other killer whales have been tagged previously with similar tags which have not resulted in death in those whales.
There were several factors in this case that predisposed this whale to a fungal infection* at the tagging site and NMFS is reviewing the findings from this case and developing mitigation factors to limit the impacts of future tags and tagging on southern resident killer whales.
*There were several factors in this case that may have predisposed this whale to a fungal infection at the tagging site including incomplete disinfection of the tag after seawater contamination,retention of the tag petals which may have allowed for formation of a biofilm or direct pathogen implantation, placement of the tag lower on the body and near large bore vessels which increased the chance of fungal dissemination through the blood system, poor body condition, and possible immunosuppression.
This controversial tagging program has been opposed by biologists, naturalists, and animal advocates:
“The Reality of Dart Tagging the Southern Resident Killer Whales – it is Invasive and Disruptive”
“Southern Resident Orca “Scoter” Hit by Invasive Satellite Tag by NOAA – To What End?”