"The good news is that we've got a federal agency - NOAA Fisheries - [that said] we're going to do something about it and went out and put together this plan to rescue her, feed her fish, get her hydrated, get some meds in her. See if we can save this whale".
J50 is one of only 75 Southern resident killer whales that swim the coastal waters between British Columbia to California.
In Canada, where the whales were last seen, the fisheries department does not yet have the legal ability to treat the whale, said marine mammal coordinator Paul Cottrell.
An endangered mother orca is still clinging to her dead calf more than two weeks after her newborn died.
The youngest of the group, the southern resident killer whale that's known to marine scientists as J50 hasn't been seen for days, and even before she vanished, experts were anxious about her deteriorating health.
Teri Rowles with NOAA Fisheries said early Tuesday that veterinarians will do a health assessment when they get access to the 3.5-year-old female killer whale.
However, if things go well, J50 might receive further treatment of salmon laced with medication.
Experts might also have to inject Scarlet with either a dart gun or a pole that contains antibiotics and other medications, or feed the whale's medicine to the live Chinook salmon and then release the salmon near Scarlet in hopes that she would eat the fish.
Rowles said injections of antibiotics or sedatives have been given to other free-swimming whales or dolphins that were injured or entangled but it hasn't been done for free-swimming whales in this area.
Whale experts have been increasingly anxious about J50 after a researcher last month noticed an odor on the orca's breath, a smell detected on other orcas that later died.
"I am absolutely shocked and heartbroken, " said Deborah Giles, research scientist for University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca, quoted by The Seattle Times.
She said it became evident that "we needed to intervene to determine potentially what was the cause and whether there was anything we could do to assist her".
An aerial photograph of adult female Southern Resident killer whale J16 with her calf (J50) in 2015, when the calf was in its first year of life.
"It's been a number of days since Friday, so it was great to see J50", Cottrell said. The K pod has 18 whales and the L pod consists of 35 whales.
Boat crews were out again on Washington waters Tuesday looking for J50, the starving orca that's part of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales that frequent the Pacific Northwest.