Grieving Orca Whale Releases Dead Calf After More Than Two Weeks

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A grieving mother orca has finally let her dead calf go, ending her "tour of grief".

The mother whale named Tahlequah, or J35, had given birth to a baby southern resident killer whale on July 24, near Victoria, British Columbia in Canada.

The Center for Whale Research in Washington state reported that officials watched the orca, known as J35, chase a school of salmon in Haro Strait west of San Juan Island on Saturday afternoon.

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Killer whales have been known to carry dead calves for a week, but scientists believe this mother "sets a record".

"She is alive and well and at least over that part of her grief".

"There had been reports from brief sightings by whale-watchers two days ago that J35 (Tahlequah) was not pushing the calf carcass in Georgia Strait near Vancouver", researchers said.

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The centre says J35 appears to be in good health based on telephoto images, in spite of concerns that she may not be able to forage for food while carrying around the carcass.

The Centre for Whale Research said the carcass had "probably sunk to the bottom of these inland marine waters of the Salish Sea" and it would be hard for researchers to locate it for necropsy.

The 20-year-old orca, who Balcomb says carried her calf more than 1,000 miles, captured national attention.

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Both Canada and the U.S. list the Southern Resident killer whale as endangered.