Look, I’m really sorry for kicking off your week with honestly some of the most heartbreaking news, but the orca whale mother who was carrying her deceased calf on her nose for the last 17 days has finally let the body go in the ocean and returned to her pod. Local whale researchers have labelled the behaviour of the orca mum over past three weeks as an “unprecedented” grieving process, and oh god it’s like a punch in the chest.

The mother kept pace with her pod while carrying her calf’s body on her head, picking up the calf when it slipped and began to sink into the abyss of the Salish Sea, and managed to move herself and her late young a massive 1600kms across the ocean before finally letting it slip away into the depths of the water.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the mother, known as J35 and Tahlequah, was spotted late last week without her deceased calf, and it was confirmed over the weekend that the calf had been finally laid to rest, allowing her to fully reunite with her pod.

The Center for Whale Research has been updating the progress of Tahlequah and her grieving process and noted that she looks to be in good health and “remarkably frisky”. The research team also note that 75% of orca calves do not survive the first year of life, meaning that pod numbers are dangerously low.

The death of the calf – which was the first baby born in the pod since 2015 – has been linked to many issues of human interference with the whales’ habitat and access to food including overfishing and overfarming of salmon in the VancouverBritish Colombia region, extreme water pollution, and the disruption of the endangered whales’ hunting grounds with fishing lanes.

Tahlequah’s extensive tour of grief for her calf has drawn a lot of attention to the deeply endangered species, with many environmentalists and wildlife protection groups “adopting” orcas to help support the remaining pods in the wild, including her pod-mate J50, who is currently in a critical condition.

Source: SMH