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Grieving orca whale carries body of her dead calf for 17 days

Grieving orca whale carries body of her dead calf for 17 days

Grieving orca whale carries body of her dead calf for 17 days

An orca whale has released the body of her dead calf after carrying it for almost three weeks through the Pacific Ocean in an unprecedented act of mourning, according to researchers.

At the weekend, Tahlequah or J35 to scientists, was observed swimming without the body of her calf, according to Center for Whale Research Founder Ken Balcomb.

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

The centre said whale-watchers near Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, had reported seeing Tahlequah without her calf’s body last week, but Saturday (local time) was the first time researchers were able to confirm those reports.

“J35 frolicked past my window today with other J pod whales, and she looks vigorous and healthy,” Ken Balcomb, of the Centre for Whale Research, told The Seattle Times. “The ordeal of her carrying a dead calf for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles is now over, thank goodness.”

The 20-year-old killer whale, is an important member of the critically endangered southern resident orca population. Her relative youth age means she could have years of reproductive ability ahead of her.

But the death of her daughter triggered a grieving process that took longer than any other documented case among killer whales, with Tahlequah carrying her infant night and day, and diving deep underwater to bring the body back to the surface when it slipped off her head.

Orca whales continue to face a number of threats to their existence, including lack of prey and noise from boats interrupting their foraging behaviour, the Independent reports.

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