Heartbroken Orca carries dead calf for a week

An endangered orca that spends time in Pacific north-west waters is still carrying the corpse of her calf one week after it died.

A baby orca whale is being pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria, British Columbia. (Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP)
A baby orca whale is being pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria, British Columbia. (Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP)

Experts at the Whale Museum on San Juan Island have been monitoring the 20-year-old whale, known as J35, since her calf died shortly after birth last Tuesday.

For days now, the whale has been balancing the dead calf on her forehead or pushing it to the surface of the water.

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Jenny Atkinson, the museum’s executive director, said the orca was still carrying her dead calf on Monday afternoon.

The new orca died soon after being born. (David Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research via AP)

Ms Atkinson says the orca and her pod are going through “a deep grieving process”.

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The calf was the first in three years to be born to the dwindling population of endangered southern resident killer whales. There are only 75 of the mammals left.