Orca Mother Grieves Dead Calf More Than Two Weeks and Counting

12 August, 2018, 11:36 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • Mourning orca mother still carrying dead calf more than two weeks later on 'tour of grief'

"Response teams today reached J Pod in Canadian waters and followed them into US waters near San Juan Island".

Mr Milstein says researchers with Fisheries and Ocean Canada also spotted another member of the same pod - the 3 ½-year old whale J50 that is emaciated.

"Responders from NOAA Fisheries and partner organizations are exploring options ranging from no intervention to providing medical treatment, potentially delivered in a live chinook salmon, which has never before been attempted in the wild". It was fed live salmon in the pen.

With the whale not close by, crews did a practice run for the feeding, sending salmon through a turquoise tube off the back of a boat.

Researchers with the Whale Sanctuary Project practiced taking samples of fish scales so they can later genetically track whether the whale consumed that fish.

As Joe Gaydos, a wildlife veterinarian and science director of SeaDoc Society, reportedly said regarding J50's concerning condition, "It's not a time where you're going to say, 'Let's keep watching.' We know it's not going to end well if we don't try and do something".

"That is very good news", he said. As of August 9, The Seattle Times reports that Tahlequah was still clinging to her baby, keeping its 400-pound (180-kilogram) body afloat with her head, coming up for air and swimming in a tight circle behind her pod for a few breaths before diving down deep to lift her daughter's body to the surface again. He and others followed the whale on the water for about six hours Thursday and got a breath sample to analyze whether she might have bacteria or fungus in her airway.

University of Washington scientist Deborah Giles said she was heartbroken for what is happening with the mom and child.

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The young whale is one of just 75 of the fish-eating orcas that frequent the inland waters of Washington state. It could be that the animal is starving, or some other disease process is resulting in them not wanting to eat, Dr Hanson said.

"That's what this is really all about".

It was hearing initial recommendations focused on three main threats to the orcas: lack of food, toxic contamination and boat noise and disturbance.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research on Thursday saw Tahlequah still continuing to carry the calf, born July 24, for the 17th straight day.

J-50 is part of a family group known as J-pod, which also includes the mother orca who has gained worldwide attention for carrying her dead newborn calf for more than two weeks, in an apparent display of mourning. She was seen again Thursday, still holding on to the remains.

Scientists are also anxious about another member of the endangered orcas.

Because Tahlequah was pregnant, it is possible she began carrying her deceased calf with an extra boost of lipids in her blubber that could be helping her now, said Dawn Noren, research fishery biologist at NOAA's Northwest Center in Seattle.

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