JUL 27, 2018 4:29 PM PDT

Orca Mother Still Mourning a Deceased Calf After Several Days

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Given just how intelligent killer whales are believed to be, it shouldn’t come off as much of a surprise that they’re one of the few creatures in the animal kingdom notorious for exhibiting complex emotionally-driven behavior.

But one orca in particular has gone above and beyond the norm this week after mourning a deceased calf for several days.

An orca swims with her deceased calf in the Pacific Ocean.

Image Credit: CWR

Scientists with the San Juan Island-based Center for Whale Research describe the heartbreaking scene, noting that the whale has been nudging the inert calf along through the ocean with its nose.

“I think she’s just grieving, unwilling at this point to let the calf go, like, ‘Why, why, why?’” explained Center for Whale Research scientist Ken Balcomb.

"The baby was so newborn it didn't have blubber. It kept sinking, and the mother would raise it to the surface," he added.

Related: Plastic pollution is killing wild whales at an alarming rate

This behavior, not uncommon in orcas and even some dolphins, represents an emotional attachment between the mother and the calf. But the most mind-boggling part of it all is just how long the mother has kept at it.

In a statement released by the Center for Whale Research this week, we’re told that the calf passed away on Tuesday, July 24th before experts could get to it. The mother has continuously buoyed the dead calf since then, refusing to let it go.

Related: Here are a few good reasons to avoid whale carcasses

No one knows how long the mother might continue this behavior, but some orcas have been known to display this behavior for up to a week. But regardless of how long it keeps up, it’s a tear-jerking scene to say the least.

Source: CWR

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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