Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks
13 August, 2018, 03:52
The whales have been struggling because of a lack of salmon, and J35's calf died soon after it was born off Vancouver Island on July 24, researchers say.
But on Saturday experts confirmed she had dropped the calf.
"Her tour of grief is now over and her behaviour is remarkably frisky".
The Centre for Whale Research released this photo of J-35, in the foreground, chasing salmon with her pod on Saturday. "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)".
"The baby's carcass was sinking and being repeatedly retrieved by the mother, who was supporting it on her forehead and pushing it in choppy seas", the CWR said in a statement at the time.
Scientists say the mother whale (foreground) appears healthy after she was pictured over the weekend without the calf. There hasn't been a successful birth among the southern resident killer whales in three years.
Center for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb said it's "unprecedented" for an orca to have gone for so long.
Orcas, also called killer whales, are highly social, and this pod was spotted Friday afternoon near Vancouver, British Columbia.
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.
The mother is now surrounded by members of her clan, known as J pod, who stay to support her through the grieving process.
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