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Killer whale pressed dead calf for two days



  Mother seen support dead calf

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Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research

Caption

Wal J35 seen support dead calf

A killer whale, whose calf died shortly after birth on Tuesday, was discovered as he pushed his body into waters off the west coast of the US and Canada.

The mother was last seen at 1

9:00 with the deceased calf Time on Thursday (2:00 Friday GMT)

The newborn died Tuesday off the shores of Victoria, British Columbia.

Killer whales have been transporting and supporting their dead calves for a week.

The baby's body sank and was repeatedly captured by the female whale, according to the Center for Whale Research, which investigates and works to preserve the Southern Resident Killer Whale.

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Michael Weiss, Center for Whale Research

Caption

The face of the calf can be seen when its body is carried by a killer whale

A Research Center team member first discovered the newborn calf on Tuesday with his mother, a whale named "J35", and other members of the pod.

But the calf seemed to die after about half an hour when a research team arrived, the US center said. The calf's mother was seen carrying her baby on her forehead and hurling it towards San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest near Washington state.

The whales can cover an average of 120 kilometers per day.

A resident of San Juan Island, quoted in a news release from the center, said she had discovered a group of five or six female killer whales at sunset with the deceased calf.

They "gathered at the mouth of the bay in a tight, tightly-knit circle and remained in a harmonious circular motion on the surface for almost two hours," she said.

"As the light faded, I could see that they continued what looked like a ritual or a ceremony, staying right in the moonbeam, even as it moved."

Both Canada and the US list the South on Resident killer whales as vulnerable. The whales depend on Chinook salmon, which have fallen dramatically in recent years.

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Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research

Bildbeschreibung

The mother carries the calf

The community of three pods, consisting of approximately 75 whales, is often found off the southern end of Vancouver Island in Canada and in the inland waters of Washington State in the United States.

Research has shown that only about a third of orcas born in the last 20 years survive. No pregnancy in the last three years has successfully produced viable offspring, says the center.


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