Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks

Grieving killer whale mother finally lets go of the dead calf she had been carrying for more than 2 weeks

J35, also known as Tahlequah, was spotted by officials of Fisheries and Oceans Canada while they were searching for another of the 75 southern resident killer whales, labelled an endangered species in both Canada and the United States. But studies have found that orcas really do possess high levels of intelligence and empathy, and emotions that may not be totally alien to our own.

He added that members of his department and a non-governmental organization called Straightwatch would be out on the waters between Vancouver and San Juan Islands to track the pod of whales known as J Pod should they cross back into Canadian waters, keeping any ships in the area away from the orcas. You can not interpret it any other way.

That was the beginning of a long funeral procession.

"The ordeal of J35 carrying her dead calf for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles is now over, thank goodness", he said. He said the mother traveled more than 1,000 miles with the corpse. She was forever picking up the body as it sank, hoisting it out of the water to take a breath, and repeating.

It's believed Tahlequah's daughter died about a half hour after she was born, but it seems the grieving mother couldn't to let her go.

She has featured in countless stories, including a report from Kara Kostanich for U.S. network ABC, which broke hearts when it was broadcast on August 1.

But Tahlequah would not let go.

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And the phenomenon was no longer of purely scientific interest. People lost sleep thinking about the whale. "She carried this for 17 months before it was born", Atkinson said.

But she's finally been able to move on from her grief, as we learned from an update from the Center for Whale Research over the weekend. But the bonds between mothers and calves are extremely strong.

Experts say each orca is crucial to the pod's survival. They are tracking the young whale - Scarlet - in an attempt to feed her antibiotic-laced salmon.

In that sense, maybe, Tahlequah's doomed calf did bring new hope to the pod, which had previously swam and struggled in near anonymity.

Researchers commonly refer to the mother orca as J-35.

The Center for Whale Research in Washington state says it watched the orca, known as J35, chase a school of salmon in Haro Strait west of San Juan Island, between the U.S. mainland and Vancouver Island, on Saturday afternoon.

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