Orca abandons body of her dead calf after 17-day journey

‘It’s heartbreaking’: Killer whale continues carrying dead calf for ‘unprecedented’ length of mourning

Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks

According to the Centre for Whale Research, observers and researchers believe that J35's "tour of grief" is now over, after she was spotted chasing a school of salmon with the rest of her pod on Saturday, August 11th.

The whales have been struggling because of a lack of salmon, and J35's calf died soon after birth on July 24.

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behaviour is remarkably frisky", explain scientists from the Centre for Whale Research, who monitor and study an endangered orca population called the Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Martin Haulena, the chief veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, said a one- or two-day "mourning period" is common in many cetacean species such as whales and dolphins, but the 17-day-long journey was distinctly odd.

J35's grief became an global story when photos of her carrying the dead calf hit the internet.

Tahlequah is one of two orcas in the pod that scientists have been monitoring.

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Giles told the Seattle Times. "This is an animal that is grieving for its dead baby, and she doesn't want to let it go".

"She is alive and well and at least over that part of her grief". "Telephoto digital images taken from shore show that this mother whale appears to be in good physical condition following her record-setting ordeal". They hoped to capture the calf once Tahlequah finally let go, and discover why it had died - as almost all the babies in this pod seemed to die.

Researchers may not get the chance to perform a necropsy. "Now we can confirm that she definitely has abandoned it".

Both Canada and the United States list the Southern Resident killer whale as endangered.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C. J50 is the sick whale that a team of experts are hoping to save by giving her antibiotics or feeding her live salmon at sea.

Balcomb said he also saw J50 with her mother and brother on Saturday, along with NOAA researchers who were following her to collect prey remains and feces.

"The population (of orcas) is both Canadian and American in terms of moving back and forth, so it's been a real coordination between governments, NGOs, and also the research community", he said.

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