Grieving Killer Whale Finally Drops Body of Dead Baby Calf 17 Days Later

Grieving Mother Orca

Finally Drops Body of Dead Baby Calf

… 17 Days Later

8/12/2018 4:36 PM PDT

A Southern Resident killer whale whose calf died shortly after birth last month was finally seen swimming without the carcass 17 days later … according to scientists, who say her “tour of grief” is over.

The Center for Whale Research announced Saturday that the mother orca in question — who goes by both Tahlequah and J35 — was seen swimming solo near British Columbia with her pod chasing a school of salmon … the first time it’d been seen without the body of her deceased calf since July 24.

August 11, 2018
J35 update: “The ordeal of J35 carrying her dead calf for at least seventeen days and 1,000 miles is now over, thank goodness.”
– Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Researchhttps://t.co/kQpA4WWbmg pic.twitter.com/cQIN13HgN6

— Whale Research (@CWROrcas) August 12, 2018

Scientists say the whale refused to part with the carcass for a whopping 17 days, in what they described as severe grieving. The CWR says mother whales have been known to transport their dead calves for up to a week at a time, but this case was unprecedented. 

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Photos and video showing Tahlequah keeping the baby whale’s body afloat soon after it died quickly went viral, especially after each passing day. The CWR says 100% pregnancies for Southern Resident killer whales over the past 3 years have failed to produce viable offspring.

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