Grieving Orca Carries Dead Calf for Over 2 Weeks, Captures World's Attention

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August 12, 2018Aug 12, 2018

An orca that was carrying her dead calf for at least 17 days in mourning has finally let it go.

According to King 5 News, a Southern Resident orca, called orca J35, was spotted of San Juan Island on Saturday, and it was confirmed that the ordeal of carrying the dead calf was over.

“J35 frolicked past my window today with other J pod whales, and she looks vigorous and healthy,” said Ken Balcomb, executive director of the Center for Whale Research, in an email.

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Balcomb said that the 20-year-old orca had carried her dead calf for more than 1,000 miles. It captured national attention.

Though orcas have been spotted carrying their calves before, this time it was unusual because J35 carried her calf for much longer than usual.

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Researchers were concerned that J35 was not eating properly. She had been spotted last Wednesday, and a concern was raised that she was spending too much energy pushing the corpse.

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However, there were never plans to intervene, according to King 5 News. NOAA wildlife biologists said that separating the mom from her calf was not an option.

Another orca, J50, has captured the concern of researchers, who believe the 3 1/2-year-old whale has lost 20 percent of her body mass, and has developed a depression hear the base of her skull. Crews have injected it with antibiotics Thursday.

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