Killer whale finally lets dead calf go

13 August, 2018, 08:40 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks

Her calf was born and died on July 24, and researchers say she towed it around for more than 1,500 kilometres.

The Center for Whale Research has confirmed that the mother's "tour of grief" is finally over.

A grieving orca whale has finally let go of her dead calf after carrying it on her head for at least 17 days over 1,000 miles.

Center for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb says he is immensely relieved to see J35 returning to typical behavior.

Mark Malleson, lead zodiac skipper with Victoria-based Prince of Whales Whale Watching, said he was shocked when spotting J35 towing her dead newborn near Sooke, B.C., in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off southern Vancouver Island. NPR's Colin Dwyer previously reported that "given the fact that orcas move in matrilineal groups, dependent on mothers and grandmothers", Tahlequah's death would put her adult son and others in danger.

Exacerbating the problem is that orcas do not have babies often or in large numbers, and when they do, it is a long process. But the bonds between mothers and calves are extremely strong. "And we know that it swam by her side.so there is a part of me that believes that the grief could be much deeper, because they had bonded".

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About 75 per cent of newborns have not survived for long after birth in the past 20 years and as a result the southern resident killer whale population has been classified as endangered.

It's believed Tahlequah's daughter died about a half hour after she was born, but it seems the grieving mother couldn't to let her go. "And now we can confirm that she definitely has abandoned it".

"The carcass has probably sunk to the bottom of these inland marine waters of the Salish Sea [between Canada and the US], and researchers may not get a chance to examine it for necropsy (autopsy of an animal)".

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

The lack of Chinook salmon, threats from toxic contamination and disturbance from vessels in the water - which disrupts the whales' ability to communicate and forage - have all threatened the animals' ability to thrive in recent times.

"The population (of orcas) is both Canadian and American in terms of moving back and forth, so it's been a real coordination between governments, NGOs, and also the research community", he said.

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