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Grieving Orca Mother Who Carried Her Dead Calf For 17 Days Gives Birth To A New Baby

Grieving Orca Mother Who Carried Her Dead Calf For 17 Days Gives Birth To A New Baby

A grieving orca named Tahlequah, who carried her dead calf with her for 17 days, has given birth to a new baby.

Tahlequah touched hearts around the globe back in 2018, when it was revealed she had carried her dead calf around with her for two and a half weeks on what experts dubbed a "tour of grief".

But now, the Center for Whale Research in Washington has reported happy news for the 21-year-old whale.

Tahlequah has given birth to a new calf (Credit: Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research)
Tahlequah has given birth to a new calf (Credit: Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research)
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On 4th September, Tahlequah gave birth to her baby - dubbed J57 by the research team - in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, an outlet to the Pacific Ocean between Canada and the United States.

The Center for Whale Research explained: "[Tahlequah's] new calf appeared healthy and precocious, swimming vigorously alongside its mother in its second day of free-swimming life.

"We know that it was not born today because its dorsal fin was upright, and we know that it takes a day or two to straighten after being bent over in the womb, so we assign its birthday as September 4, 2020."

The pregnancy was first reported back in July (Credit: Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research)
The pregnancy was first reported back in July (Credit: Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research)
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The pregnancy was first reported back in July after experts noticed Tahlequah appeared to be a little larger than usual.

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"We hope folks on the water can give the Southern Residents plenty of space to forage at this important time. With such a small population every successful birth is hugely important for recovery," they wrote at the time.

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And just a couple of months later, on 5th September, the team at the Center for Whale Research followed up on a report that a small calf had been seen in the waters.

Sure enough, researchers Dave Ellifrit and Katie Jones, accompanied by guest veterinarian Dr. Sarah Bahan, quickly identified the mum as Tahlequah. The team were over the moon!

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On 5th September, the team followed up on reports that a small whale had been seen (Credit: Katie Jones/Center for Whale Research)
On 5th September, the team followed up on reports that a small whale had been seen (Credit: Katie Jones/Center for Whale Research)

"She made world news in the summer of 2018 when she carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days while the pod traveled about 1,000 miles around the Salish Sea on what we termed a 'Tour of Grief'," they explained.

"She was still capable of producing a live calf after an approximate eighteen-month gestation! Hooray! Her new calf appeared healthy and precocious, swimming vigorously alongside its mother in its second day of free-swimming life.

"Tahlequah was mostly separate from the other whales and being very evasive as she crossed the border into Canada, so we ended our encounter with her after a few minutes and wished them well on their way."

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Congrats to Tahlequah, this is the happiest news!

Featured Image Credit: Katie Jones/Center for Whale Research

Topics: Life News, Animals

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Lucy Devine

Lucy is a journalist working for Tyla. After graduating with a master's degree in journalism, she has worked in both print and online and is particularly interested in fashion, food, health and women's issues. Northerner, coffee addict, says hun a lot. Get in touch at [email protected]