Orca back to feeding and frolicking after carrying dead calf

Orca back to feeding and frolicking after carrying dead calf

Yesterday, the mother, J35, was spotted vigorously chasing a school of salmon with her pod-mates in mid-Haro Strait in front of the centre.

The whales have been struggling because of a lack of salmon, and J35's calf died soon after it was born off Vancouver Island on July 24, researchers say.

Researchers called the display of grief unprecedented in its length, and people worldwide expressed anguish as they followed the story.

Writing on its website, the Center for Whale Research said Tahlequah's "tour of grief" was now over and that her behaviour was now "remarkably frisky".

Whale J35 seen here supporting her dead calf.

An endangered killer whale that drew global 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, United States researchers say.

In the hours, then days after the death, Tahlequah was spotted trying to keep her baby's head above the water's surface, reluctant to leave the body behind.

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Researchers also believe that J35 has set the record for the longest period of time during which a mother orca has carried around her dead baby.

The centre says J35 appears to be in good health based on telephoto images, in spite of concerns she may not have been able to forage for food while carrying around the carcass.

The researchers explain the dead calf has likely sunk deep into the inland marine waters of the Salish Sea, meaning it's uncertain whether scientists will get a chance to recover the body and investigate why the infant died.

Scientists have also moved to save J-50, another whale in the endangered pod.

Dr. Martin Haulena, the chief veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, said a one- or two-day "mourning period" is common in many cetacean species such as whales and dolphins, but the 17-day-long journey was distinctly unusual.

J35's grief became an global story when photos of her carrying the dead calf hit the internet. The CWR says 100% of pregnancies for Southern Resident killer whales over the past 3 years have failed to produce viable offspring.

The Southern Resident killer whale is listed as an endangered species with roughly only a third of the calves born in the last 20 years surviving, according to the BBC.

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