The mother orca, Taldequah, has stopped mourning the death of her baby calf after tenderly keeping its decomposing body afloat for 17 days. On Saturday, the mother orca looked “vigorous and healthy.”
Also known as J35, Taldequah was first spotted July 24 carrying the calf on her nose and in her mouth. The calf only lived 45 minutes. By the time biologists from the Center for Whale Research arrived to report their findings, the calf was dead. According to the Seattle Times, Ken Balcomb, the director of the Center for Whale Research stated:
“The ordeal of her carrying a dead calf for at least seventeen days and 1,000 miles is now over thank goodness. She is alive and well and at least over that part of her grief. Today was the first day that for sure saw her. It is no longer there.”
Researchers are confident that the whale has been eating. Another whale, known as J50 does seem too thin, and is showing signs of malnutrition. Scientists are ready to supply fresh chinook salmon. It is the lack of food that scientists claim is the reason the orca babies are dying.
The whale’s behavior mourning the death of her young is not unusual Dolphins and gorillas are also known to carry their dead offspring as part of their grieving processes.
(Photos Ken Balcomb)
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