Grieving killer whale carries dead calf for over two weeks

An adult female Southern Resident killer whale with her calf in Pacific Northwest waters

An adult female Southern Resident killer whale with her calf in Pacific Northwest waters

An endangered orca is still clinging to her dead calf in the waters of British Columbia more than two weeks after her newborn died.

Thornton said a Fisheries and Oceans Canada team did encounter J35 off of the southern tip of Vancouver Island on Thursday and she was still pushing the body of the calf, which was born and died July 24.

The rescue team has approval in both US and Canadian waters to give J50 medication, but there is no such plan for another member of the population of southern resident killer whales that has scientists anxious. "That is not on the table", said Brad Hanson, wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

A team of experts have been searching for the young whale to assess her health and potentially give her food and medication, KIRO reports.

Fearing that J50's fate will be the same if they don't intervene, scientists are considering multiple strategies created to save the starving whale, including feeding her live salmon dosed with medication at sea.

J35 was spotted Wednesday carrying her dead calf, marking the 16th day of her "tour of grief".

Her dead calf - which lost its rigidity a week ago - is holding up remarkably well, NOAA officials said. NOAA would apply for the feeding permit if conditions are right, said Lynne Barre, NOAA Fisheries' recovery coordinator for the whales.

The carcass is "surprisingly intact", she said.

"Removing the calf would be a very, very hard decision, and obviously we would have to take many factors into consideration, so that's now not on the table", she said.

Rowles said injections of antibiotics or sedatives have been given to other free-swimming whales or dolphins that were injured or entangled but it hasn't been done for free-swimming whales in this area.

United States and Canadian scientists said they were concerned about the mother's condition and would keep monitoring her but have no plans to help her or remove the calf.

"I think it could have gone a little bit better and I would try things a little bit differently based on what we found", Haulena said.

A team of whale experts has injected an ailing killer whale with antibiotics in a rare effort to save her. In a remarkable demonstration of maternal affection viewed around the world, 30-year-old Tahlequah, went into mourning, sometimes carrying the dead baby calf on her back for hundreds of miles over the course of at least 10 days.

Experts say Springer's case was different because she was isolated.

The whales face nutritional stress over a lack of Chinook salmon as well as threats from toxic contamination and vessel noise and disturbances.

They have called for the removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River to restore salmon runs.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a video statement on Facebook detailing what his office is doing to protect the orca population in the waters around the state.

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