After more than two weeks, orca drops body of her dead calf

Blanche Robertson
August 13, 2018

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. Whale experts say they have seen orcas mourn their offspring before, but J35 clung to her calf for an unusually long period of time. The mother was not ready to let go, and carried the calf along with her as she swam.

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. She was no long carrying her baby.

"She is alive and well and at least over that part of her grief". The center said the whale appeared to be in good condition and "her behavior is remarkably frisky".

In addition to tugging at heartstrings, the calf's loss was a major blow to the local endangered killer whales' population, which has just 75 orcas.

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The centre called the mother's ordeal "record-setting".

She finally abandoned the carcass as it decomposed.

The Centre for Whale Research said the carcass had "probably sunk to the bottom of these inland marine waters of the Salish Sea" and it would be hard for researchers to locate it for necropsy.

Researchers say 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.

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