Friday, 17 August 2018

Orca mother finally abandons dead calf she carried for more than two weeks

Researchers say endangered killer whale who lives off the coast of Seattle is back to feeding and frolicking with her pod

Guardian staff and agencies
Mon 13 Aug 2018 01.32 BSTLast modified on Mon 13 Aug 2018 10.02 BST

Researchers say an endangered killer whale that carried her dead calf on her head for more than two weeks has finally abandoned the calf’s body and is back to feeding and frolicking with her pod.

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 US mainland and Vancouver Island, on Saturday afternoon.

J35’s calf died soon after birth on 24 July. The mother carried the baby on her head for at least 17 days, in an image of grief that struck an emotional chord worldwide.

She finally abandoned the carcass as it decomposed.

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

Three years have passed since an orca residing in the area has birthed a surviving calf. In the past 20 years, 40 orcas have been born into the group while 72 have died. Only 75 killer whales in the endangered group, known as southern resident orcas, remain.

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