24 July: A baby killer whale is pushed by her mother after the birth of the canadian coast near Victoria, British Columbia.
(Center for Whale Research via AP)
A mourning orca continued to carry her dead calf for a fifth straight day on Saturday, which is a rare occurrence in nature and is supposed to mourn.
J35, a member of the endangered southern resident family of the killer whales, gave birth to her calf on Tuesday only to watch it die within a half hour.
“The baby was newborn had no mud. It continued to sink, and the mother would raise it from the surface,” Ken Balcomb, a senior researcher at the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, Washington State, said:
Since then, they that the calf body around on its nose, diving to pick it up if it falls off. She was last observed at the beginning of the evening on Saturday in the Canadian waters.
Scientists have documented grieving behaviour of other animals with close social ties in small, close-knit groups, observed wearing of newborns who did not survive. The baby orca was the first calf born in the three years before the endangered orcas, the Center for Whale Research said.
Seven species in seven geographical regions of three oceans have been documented wearing the body of their dead young, including Risso’s dolphin in the Indian Ocean, the Indo-Pacific bottle-nosed dolphin and the spinner dolphins in the Red Sea, and pilot whales in the North Atlantic ocean.
But more than 24 hours of mourning is a rare phenomenon, says Deborah Giles, a scientist from the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and director of research for the non-profit Wild Orca.
“It is terrible. This is an animal is a living being,” Giles told the AP. “It understands the social relationships that it has with the rest of his family members. She carried the calf in her belly from 17 to 18 months, they are connected and they don’t want to let go. It is that simple. They mourn.”
J35 the news came, just as the investigators were also keeping track of a 4-year-old in the south-resident who is ill, and whose survival may be in doubt due to the loss of body fat.
Researchers are increasingly concerned with the fate of the southern residents, who are the face of three major challenges for their survival as a species: toxins, vessel traffic and the lack of sufficient food (their primary food source is chinook salmon
The most recent census of the killer whales has shown that they are number 75 in the area, across three southern resident pods. For the last three years no new calves are born to the shrinking of whales in the Pacific Northwest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report