Orca whale mother's 'tour of grief' over after almost 3 weeks

Grieving orca lets go of dead calf after carrying it over 2 weeks

Grieving orca lets go of dead calf after carrying it over 2 weeks

VANCOUVER-Researchers say an endangered orca's "tour of grief" is over after she spent almost three weeks towing her dead calf around the Pacific Ocean.

Yesterday, the mother, J35, was spotted vigorously chasing a school of salmon with her pod-mates in mid-Haro Strait in front of the centre.

A Southern Resident orca who carried the corpse of her calf for at least 17 days in mourning has released it.

Center for Whale Research founder Ken Balcomb said he is immensely relieved to see J35 returning to typical behavior.

"J35 frolicked past my window today with other J pod whales, and she looks vigorous and healthy", Balcomb wrote in an email.

Killer whales have been known to carry dead calves for a week, but scientists believe this mother "sets a record". There have been sightings two days ago of J35 without her calf in the Georgia Strait near Vancouver.

"The carcass has probably sunk to the bottom of these inland marine waters of the Salish Sea [between Canada and the US], and researchers may not get a chance to examine it for necropsy (autopsy of an animal)".

Tahlequah captured nationwide attention after being spotted carrying her dead calf, which died about a half hour after being born on July 24, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Both Canada and the USA list the Southern Resident killer whale as endangered.