Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Orca's 'tour of grief' over after carrying dead calf for weeks

Tahlequah is no longer carrying her dead calf Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks
Ellis Copeland | 13 August, 2018, 20:09

The centre said whale-watchers near Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, had reported seeing Tahlequah without her calf's body last week, but Saturday (local time) was the first time researchers were able to confirm those reports.

After nearly seventeen heart-wrenching days of carrying her dead calf around, J35 (nicknamed Tahlequah), the mother orca, was spotted traversing the waters of the Georgia Strait without her baby.

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behavior is remarkably frisky", the Center for Whale Research (CWR) explained in a blog post online. Unfortunately, the salmon has been in dramatic decline in recent years. "And on Thursday she was still seen pushing her baby to the water's surface".

"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.

"I am sobbing. I can't believe she is still carrying her calf around", Giles told the Seattle Times.

"Telephoto digital images taken from shore show that this mother whale appears to be in good physical condition", says the Centre for Whale Research.

But on Saturday experts confirmed she had dropped the calf.

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Tahlequah is one of two orcas in the pod that scientists have been monitoring.

Mr. Garrett said J50 still looks very bad but is still travelling with her family, although sometimes lagging behind them.

Tahlequah was spotted Saturday chasing a school of salmon with her pod mates in the Haro Strait without the dead calf for a half-mile, the Washington-state based Center for Whale Research said.

"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.

Most killer whales eat a wider diet, but this particular group of about 75 resident orcas eats just salmon, which have been overfished in the area for commercial consumption.

It was a journey of love, driven by a mother's loss, stretching across a thousand miles of ocean as the world watched and wondered.

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