Killer whale carries dead calf for week during 'deep grieving'

James Marshall
August 4, 2018

The orca, known as J35 or Tahlequah, gave birth to the calf on July 24.

The infant was initially seen alive and swimming around its mother, notes the Center for Whale Research in Washington.

We are saddened to report that a baby Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) died a short time after it was born near...

According CBC, members of the mother whale's pod have been helping with the grieving creature's mourning by taking turns balancing the baby killer whale's carcass on their noses, as she'd been doing for days through the waters near San Juan Island, Washington.

"It's a very tragic tour of grief", says Ken Balcomb, founder of the whale research center.

A pod of endangered orcas, native to the Pacific Northwest waters, has been seen floating the body of a dead calf that died over a week ago.

"I can only imagine, once that baby took breath and swam by mom, that the bond they would have already shared had to have deepened".

Biologist Deborah Giles with the Center for Conservation Biology said the orca is aware the calf is dead, adding it is common for orca mothers to mourn the death of a calf.

Atkinson says the orca and her pod are going through "a deep grieving process".

Tahlequah was last spotted on Tuesday evening, in a 1,000-foot-deep stretch of water near the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, notes The Seattle Times.

Tahlequah's clan has stayed with her despite her slowed pace and she was seen surrounded by her entire family Sunday. It boggles my mind.

She has since carried the corpse with a flipper, in her mouth or pushed it with her head. "It is just heartbreaking".

"Whales in this endangered population are dependent upon Chinook salmon for their primary food source", Balcomb said.

Researchers have been monitoring the orca throughout her journey and plan to do so until she concludes her journey with the calf.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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