Orca seen grieving, carrying dead calf is now feeding, frolicking with pod

13 August, 2018, 03:56 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Tahlequah is no longer carrying her dead calf

Regrettably, researchers say about 75% of newborns in the recent two decades following designation of the Southern Resident killer whale population as "endangered" have not survived, and 100% of the pregnancies in the past three years have failed to produce viable offspring.

The calf died soon after birth in July, and the orca mom had carried the body for almost three weeks while traveling hundreds of miles.

The Center for Whale Research says the killer whale, known as J35, was spotted without her baby while she "vigorously chased a school of salmon" for about a kilometre over the weekend.

"J35 frolicked past my window today with other J pod whales, and she looks vigorous and healthy", he told Seattle-based station King 5 in an email. "Now we can confirm that she definitely has abandoned it".

CWR founder Ken Balcomb said he was immensely relieved to see J35 returning to typical behaviour.

The calf is believed to have died the same day.


Orcas, also called killer whales, are highly social, and this pod was spotted Friday afternoon near Vancouver, British Columbia.

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

Scientists say the whale refused to part with the carcass for a whopping 17 days, in what they described as severe grieving. But the bonds between mothers and calves are extremely strong. He said the mother has traveled more than 1,000 miles with the corpse, which has begun to decompose.

The problem for this group of killer whales is a dwindling food supply, scientists say.

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

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