Orca whale mother's 'tour of grief' over after almost 3 weeks

It’s heartbreaking’ Killer whale continues carrying dead calf for ‘unprecedented’ length of mourning

An endangered killer whale that drew worldwide attention as she carried her dead calf on her head for more than two weeks off Canada's west coast is finally back to feeding and frolicking with her pod, researchers say.

Tahlequah, aka the orca mother J35, has finally surrendered her deceased newborn calf, after carrying her lifeless body for seventeen straight days in an arduous display of animal grief and denial that made headlines around the world.

Yesterday, the mother, J35, was spotted vigorously chasing a school of salmon with her pod-mates in mid-Haro Strait in front of the centre.

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.

She finally abandoned the carcass as it decomposed, the AP reports.

On Saturday, Tahlequah, as the mother has come to be called, was spotted swimming without the infant balanced on her head for the first time since July, according to Centre for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb. Typically, Atkinson said, researchers have seen mothers carry stillborn calves for "a day or so".

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behavior is remarkably frisky". She was forever picking up the body as it sank, hoisting it out of the water to take a breath, and repeating.

Whale J35 seen here supporting her dead calf.

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Researchers with the Canadian and USA governments and other organisations tracked her all the while, the Seattle Times wrote.

While scientists had previously held fears for Tahlequah's health due to not eating, Mr Balcomb confirmed she seemed physically stable.

This continued for 17 days, with Tahlequah pushing the calf along in waters near Canada's Vancouver Island.

Scientists have also moved to save J-50, another whale in the endangered pod.

The Southern Resident population the females belong to has about 75 members and has not had a successful birth in three years.

Researchers with the Canadian and USA governments and other organizations tracked her all the while, the Seattle Times wrote.

Researchers were concerned that the orca's "deep grieving process", pushing the carcass for 1,000 miles off Washington state, was distracting it from foraging and feeding.

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