Mother Orca Spotted Carrying Dead Calf For 17th Day

10 August, 2018, 17:53 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Mourning orca mother still carrying dead calf more than two weeks later on 'tour of grief'

A photo of a response team pole as members try to take a breath sample and give antibiotics to southern resident killer whale J50 on Thursday.

Michael Milstein, a spokesman with NOAA Fisheries, says researchers on Wednesday spotted the 20-year-old whale known as J35 carrying her dead young off the tip of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

"I certainly think the duration of carrying the calf is unprecedented", she said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

The calf died July 24 and images of the mother, also known as Tahlequah or J35, have struck the hearts of people worldwide.

Wednesday's spotting was the first time the pair had been seen since last week.

"The very poor health condition of southern resident killer whale J-50 of the J-pod is extremely concerning to all of us and warrants immediate action,"reads a statement from DFO". Biologists from the Center for Whale Research investigated and found the calf was only briefly alive, and has since been decomposing.


"We have obvious concerns about the displacement of her behavior away from foraging and feeding towards carrying the calf", Thornton said. "I'm not even sure we would be successful".

NOAA Fisheries and partner organizations are exploring options ranging from no intervention at all to providing medical treatment, potentially delivered via a live Chinook salmon for J50 to eat, a treatment method never before been attempted in the wild, the agency said.

During the first three days of her calf's death, the orca swam with her pod but carried along her baby's almost 400 pound body.

"If they're travelling, it's challenging", said Hanson. In order to feed the sick whale the medicated fish, crews must get within five metres of the pod.

"Tracking the animals in close proximity is challenging", Hanson said, mentioning breath sampling is almost impossible in bad weather. She was moved into a floating net pen and veterinarians assessed her medical condition and treated her.

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