Mother orca whale mourned for 17 days as she carried her dead calf

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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)

Read more about Tahlequah here.

Read more news on the National Pet Rescue page here.

Let’s help Calista. Read her story here.

Caught red-handed…watch this dog’s adorable reaction after being caught with a bucket in his mouth!



3 replies
  1. Adrienne says:

    I know that we are not suppose to intervene in situations like this, but to save a species, I think we should figure out ways for these animals to find the foods they need to survive and for their offspring to live a healthy life. Hopefully scientists and marine biologists can come up with solutions before it is too late to help.

  2. susispot says:

    It was gut wrenching to watch the reports of this mama’s pain. I hope she will be able to have another babe in the future that will live and give her the joy this one should have. RIP baby. You were loved.


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