Orca back to feeding, frolicking after carrying dead calf

Orca’s ‘tour of grief’ over after carrying dead calf around for nearly 3 weeks

Orca’s ‘tour of grief’ over after carrying dead calf around for nearly 3 weeks

The Center for Whale Research says the killer whale, known as J35, was spotted without her baby while she "vigorously chased a school of salmon" for about a kilometre over the weekend.

"Her tour of grief is now over and her behaviour is remarkably frisky", said a statement from the Centre for Whale Research.

The calf died soon after birth in July, and the orca mom had carried the body for almost three weeks while traveling hundreds of miles. Researchers may not get the chance to perform a necropsy.

The mother refused to let go for more than moments at a time, pushing the carcass along or holding its tail in her teeth in waters off the West Coast.

Scientists say the mother whale (foreground) appears healthy after she was pictured over the weekend without the calf.

It says there had been reports "from brief sightings by whale-watchers" two days ago of J35 without her calf in the Georgia Strait near Vancouver. Most killer whales eat a wider diet, but this particular group of about 75 resident orcas eats just salmon, which have been overfished in the area for commercial consumption. "This kind of behavior is like a period of mourning and has been seen before".

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

Another struggling female in the same pod - J50, also known as Scarlet - was shot with antibiotics to fight an infection, since scientists worry that she has been losing a frightening amount of weight.

CWR said the calf's death underlined the dire state of the Southern Resident community, which faces extinction after failing to raise a viable calf in the past three years.

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