Killer Whale Carries Her Dead Baby For 17 Days, Scientists Concerned

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The killer whale named J-35 and her J-pod were observed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) researchers. Over two weeks ago, the orca J-35 gave birth to her baby, who died after a little while. Ever since that day, the mother has been carrying its carcass with her.

Sheila Thornton, one of the researchers, is concerned about the impact her behavior might have on the rest of her pod:

“We have obvious concerns about the displacement of her behaviour away from foraging and feeding towards carrying her calf, and concerns over the length of time this behaviour continues.”

Scientists were observing another orca in the J-pod – the J-50, who was sick and emaciated. The team believed it could have an infection. That was when they spotted J-35 still carrying her dead baby.

Whale Population In Danger

US and Canada’s officials received approval from their governments to test the J-50 whale and feed her a fish with antibiotics in it to help it bounce back to health. Unfortunately, the teams had to delay tests on the whales because of fog and high winds, explains wildlife biologist (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association), Brad Hanson:

“We can operate in calm winds. The challenge is keeping track of the whales. What we need to do is match the course and speed of the whales and then move very calmly in so we don’t disrupt them.”

At the moment, experts don’t know why the orcas have lost so much weight. They believe it could be an infection. The southern resident killer whales are an endangered species, reaching a population of 76.

DFO stated that they would act immediately to help their orcas stay alive:

“The very poor health condition of southern resident killer whale J-50 of the J-pod is extremely concerning to all of us and warrants immediate action. J-50’s fragile state is particularly trying for Canadians, Americans and Indigenous peoples given the state of the whale population and the whales’ cultural significance.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere

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