Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks

Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks Orca whale mother's 'tour of grief' over after nearly 3 weeks
Leonard Rios | 13 August, 2018, 20:10

An endangered killer whale that drew worldwide attention as she carried her dead calf on her head for more than two weeks is finally back to feeding and frolicking with her pod, USA researchers say.

The orca, known as J35, is finally back to feeding and frolicking with her pod after what appeared to be a prolonged grieving period of 17 days.

But the center said J35 was seen Saturday afternoon just off its headquarters and "vigorously chased" salmon with her pod.

The calf died a short time after it was born near Victoria, British Columbia on July 24, 2018 and J35 repeatedly saved its body from sinking according to a release from the Center for Whale Research.

The act itself was not unprecedented, but researchers said it was rare to see a mother carry her dead for so long.

"It is no longer there", Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, told the Seattle Times.

Her grieving lasted for at least 17 days, researchers said.

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

Researchers were hoping to collect the carcass after J35 let it go to find out why it died. For although killer whales and dolphins have been known to exhibit this behaviour, it usually only lasts up to a week.

While scientists had previously held fears for Tahlequah's health due to not eating, Mr Balcomb confirmed she seemed physically stable. "What exactly she's feeling we'll never know".

Scientists have also moved to save J-50, another whale in the endangered pod.

Experts had been concerned about the mother's condition and anxious that the time and energy spent clinging onto the infant's body could take away from time spent foraging or feeding.

The chief culprit, researchers say, is there isn't enough salmon in the water to keep the orca population fit and healthy.

There are only 75 southern resident killer whales - a distinct population of orcas that live in the northeast Pacific - and the group has not produced a surviving calf since 2015, meaning that they are at risk of dying out as they pass breeding age. The effort of pushing her calf - for about 1,000 miles by now - is probably making her weak and keeping her from finding enough food.

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