By Josie July 27th, 2023
The mother is an orca named Tahlequah, or J35, from the Southern Resident Killer Whale population
The mother gave birth to a calf that tragically died after just half an hour, she then embarked on what scientists refer to as a “tour of grief.”.
Her mourning journey started near Victoria, British Columbia. 1000 miles later, she let go of her calf somewhere in the Salish Sea.
This intensity and duration of Tahlequah’s mourning also underscore orcas’ capacity for long-term memory and emotional depth.
In orca societies, mother-offspring bonds are exceptionally strong and long-lasting, often persisting throughout the animals’ lives.
The mother's pod is critically endangered, 74 individuals remain according to the last count in July 2023.
Their primary food source of these, the Chinook salmon, is in decline - this is the major reason for their endangerment.
In September 2020, researchers spotted Tahlequah, with a new calf, eliciting worldwide joy and relief.