Orca abandons dead calf after 17-day vigil

Frederick Owens
August 13, 2018

An endangered orca's "tour of grief" is over after she spent almost three weeks towing her dead calf around the Pacific Ocean, researchers said Sunday.

Researchers said the endangered killer whale - known as J35 and affectionately named Tahlequah - was back to feeding and frolicking with her pod after she was seen chasing a school of salmon in Haro Strait, west of the San Juan Islands in Washington State on Saturday.

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

A mother orca tends to her deceased calf.

Meanwhile researchers have been tending to ailing orca J50, a 3½-year-old whale who has lost 20 percent of her body mass and developed a depression near the base of her skull. Images of the mother clinging to the dead calf have struck an emotional chord across the world.

The mother is now surrounded by members of her clan, known as J pod, who stay to support her through the grieving process.

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behaviour is remarkably frisky".

More news: Nadal into Rogers Cup SFs after overcoming red-hot Cilic

J35's grief became an global story when photos of her carrying the dead calf hit the internet. "What exactly she's feeling we'll never know".

Sadly, Tahlequah and her daughter enjoyed less than an hour swimming together after the calf was born, before the infant died of an unknown cause. It couldn't have been easy for her. Tahlequah's pod travels dozens of miles in a day, Chiu wrote, and she pushed her baby's hundreds of pounds every inch of the way.

The centre said the carcass likely sank to the bottom of the Salish Sea, and researchers may not get a chance to perform a necropsy.

"The baby's carcass was sinking and being repeatedly retrieved by the mother, who was supporting it on her forehead and pushing it in choppy seas", the CWR said in a statement at the time.

Ken Balcomb, the founder of the Center for Whale Research, told Q13 Fox that J35's actions were a "tour of grief" and "unprecedented".

Researchers with the Canadian and US governments and other organizations tracked her all the while, the Seattle Times wrote.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER