Published: Mon, August 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Orca whale mother's 'tour of grief' over after almost 3 weeks

Orca whale mother's 'tour of grief' over after almost 3 weeks

Researchers say an endangered killer whale that drew worldwide attention as she carried her dead calf on her head for more than two weeks is finally back to feeding and frolicking with her pod.

After carrying her deceased baby for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles, an orca mother has shown signs of returning to normal.

On Jul. 24, Tahlequah's baby orca died shortly after birth, in what has been a common story for the southern resident killer whale population.

She was documented by researchers at the Centre for Whale Research, who officially refer to her as J35.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, B.C. J50 is the sick whale that a team of experts are hoping to save by giving her antibiotics or feeding her live salmon at sea.

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Researchers said the whales, who are known for mourning their dead, had been helping the mother to carry the calf.

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behaviour is remarkably frisky", read an update on the research centre's website.

The mother was preventing the body from sinking to the ocean floor.

While scientists had previously held fears for Tahlequah's health due to not eating, Mr Balcomb confirmed she seemed physically stable.

Sadly, Tahlequah and her daughter enjoyed less than an hour swimming together after the calf was born, before the infant died of an unknown cause.

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Researchers with the Canadian and United States governments and other organisations tracked her all the while, the Seattle Times wrote.

She was seen Saturday with fellow members of her pod, chasing a school of salmon.

It's believed her calf's body sunk to the bottom of the strait, meaning researchers may not get a chance to examine it for an autopsy.

Researchers with the Canadian and US governments and other organizations tracked her all the while, the Seattle Times wrote. But according to Mr. Garrett, the corpse most likely will never be found.

The SRKW's decline is linked to the reduction in population of its primary food source, Chinook salmon.

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