After almost seventeen heart-wrenching days of carrying her dead calf around, J35 (nicknamed Tahlequah), the mother orca, was spotted traversing the waters of the Georgia Strait without her baby.
According to the Centre for Whale Research, observers and researchers believe that J35’s “tour of grief” is now over, after she was spotted chasing a school of salmon with the rest of her pod on Saturday, August 11th.
She carried her deceased baby off the coast of Vancouver Island from July 24th until at least August 9th, when she may have been spotted by whale watchers who told CWR researchers that J35 was not pushing her calf’s corpse.
Digital images of the mother orca taken from the shore show that she is in good physical condition and “her behaviour is remarkably frisky”.
Researchers also believe that J35 has set the record for the longest period of time during which a mother orca has carried around her dead baby. For although killer whales and dolphins have been known to exhibit this behaviour, it usually only lasts up to a week.
The body of J35’s baby has, by now, sunk to the bottom of the Salish Sea and may not be available to researchers for examination.