The stunning, devastating, weekslong journey of an orca and her dead calf

Tahlequah is no longer carrying her dead calf and appears to be vigorous and healthy as she swims with her pod in Haro Strait off San Juan Island on Saturday. Her ordeal of carrying her dead calf for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles is over

"J35 vigorously chased a school of salmon with her pod-mates in mid-Haro Strait in front of the Center for Whale Research for a half mile", they said.

The whales have been struggling because of a lack of salmon, and J35's calf died soon after birth on July 24.

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behaviour is remarkably frisky".

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.

Researchers said J35 towed the calf for almost 1,000 miles over a span of 17 days.

The calf is believed to have died the same day. She is no longer carrying her baby, and she looks healthy.

The solo appearance marks the only confirmed occasion observers have seen Tahlequah without the deceased calf since the infant was born, ending a heartbreaking, record-setting haul in which the mother pushed the limp baby girl along for an estimated 1,000 miles (about 1,600 km).

Orcas, also called killer whales, are highly social, and this pod was spotted Friday afternoon near Vancouver, British Columbia.

In circumstances like this, orcas are known to nudge along perished newborns for up to a week, preventing them from sinking by repeatedly propping them up on their foreheads in a desperate bid to keep them with the pod. "And now we can confirm that she definitely has abandoned it".

The centre said the carcass likely sank to the bottom of the Salish Sea, and researchers may not get a chance to perform a necropsy. The whales depend on Chinook salmon - which have been in dramatic decline in recent years - for food.

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.

These orcas are facing a real threat of extinction, with no successful pregnancies in the last three years.

It was a journey of love, driven by a mother's loss, stretching across a thousand miles of ocean as the world watched and wondered.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Cech enjoying new Arsenal approach despite City loss
The World Cup victor took straight to Twitter when the club's official account reported the comments replying, "Oops". But it took City just over 10 minutes to find the opener, and they were helped by more poor Arsenal defending.

Lionel Messi breaks Barcelona trophy record with Spanish Super Cup title
Last season at club level Messi played 54 times, scoring 45 goals and winning the Golden Boot for a record fifth time . It had been thought the Spanish Super Cup was the same but Sevilla said they would object to "an improper line-up".

Betts homers to complete the cycle
Stanton's 28th homer traveled an estimated 449 feet and was clocked at 121.7 miles per hour according to Statcast. He celebrated his no-doubt homer by lifting a fist and smiling at Boston's dugout. "That was cool to see".

White House Blasts Omarosa’s Book Claiming Trump Used Racist Remarks
According to excerpts in media outlets , Manigault-Newman questions Trump's mental state and accuses him of using racial epithets. Trump is a "racist, misogynist and bigot" in her book, according to the Washington Post . "I wish you continued success".

Hearings for Supreme Court nominee to start Sept 4
Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he expects the hearings to last a maximum of four days. White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kavanaugh was looking forward to speaking with Congress, reports CNN.

Other news