After 17 days, killer whale lets dead newborn calf go

After 17 days, killer whale lets dead newborn calf go

Regrettably, researchers say about 75% of newborns in the recent two decades following designation of the Southern Resident killer whale population as "endangered" have not survived, and 100% of the pregnancies in the past three years have failed to produce viable offspring.

The whale then "vigorously chased a school of salmon with her pod-mates in Haro Strait" off Canada's Vancouver Island, the Center for Whale Research (CWR) said.

A Southern Resident orca who carried the corpse of her calf for at least 17 days in mourning has released it.

Center for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb says he is immensely relieved to see J35 returning to typical behavior.

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

J35's grief became an global story when photos of her carrying the dead calf hit the internet.

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Photos and video showing Tahlequah keeping the baby whale's body afloat soon after it died quickly went viral, especially after each passing day.

Another struggling female in the same pod - J50, also known as Scarlet - was shot with antibiotics to fight an infection, since scientists worry that she has been losing a frightening amount of weight.

Scientists say the whale refused to part with the carcass for a whopping 17 days, in what they described as severe grieving. "What exactly she's feeling we'll never know".

Deborah Giles, a research scientist and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca, said watching the orca with her calf was emotionally draining.

Both Canada and the U.S. list the Southern Resident killer whale as endangered.

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