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Offbeat: 'Unbelievably sad.' A grieving killer whale carries her dead calf off British Columbia

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A grieving killer whale who was reluctant to let her deceased calf go was spotted carrying it around on her head. Its grieving mother was reluctant to let it go. Source: Photo by Michael Weiss, Center for Whale Research. Wildlife biologist for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Brad Hanson has seen this behaviour before and described it as “ unbelievably sad .” A resident who witnessed the grieving mother and pod recalled, “At sunset, a group of 5-6 females gathered at the mouth of the cove in a close, tight-knit circle, staying at the surface in a harmonious circular motion for nearly 2 hours.”

A grieving orca, or killer whale , has been spotted propping up the body of her dead calf for two days off Victoria, British Columbia , researchers say. The baby died shortly after being born. He notified the Center for Whale Research at Friday Harbor, Washington, reported CBC News. But when researchers arrived, they found J35 trying to prop up her dead newborn with her nose, according to the network. Researchers again spotted her Wednesday carrying her dead calf on her head through the water.

In this photo taken Tuesday, July 24, 2018, provided by the Center for Whale Research, a baby orca whale is being pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria, British Columbia. © Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP In this photo taken Tuesday, July 24, 2018, provided by the Center for Whale Research, a baby orca whale is being pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria, British Columbia.

An orca has been spotted off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, propping the body of her dead newborn calf up in the water with her head for two days, researchers say.

"It is unbelievably sad," said Brad Hanson, wildlife biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, according to The Seattle Times.

Deborah Giles, a biologist with the Center for Conservation Biology, told KCPQ that photos of the orca carrying her dead newborn are "heartbreaking."

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A grieving mother killer whale , pushing her dead calf around the water for a week, has alarmed scientists holding grave fears that the orca is starving herself. According to the Center for Whale Research dolphins and killer whales have been known to transport their dead offspring for up to a week. Researchers hold grave fears for Tahlequah’s health, with fears that she is not eating enough food to stay healthy. “I am so terrified for her well-being,” Deborah Giles, research scientist for University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and research director for non-profit Wild

On Saturday she was spotted looking 'vigorous and healthy' following 17 days of swimming with her dead calf on her forehead in the Haro Strait off of the Washington coast. 'J35 frolicked past my window today with other J pod whales , and she looks vigorous and healthy,' Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Researchers have been monitoring the activity of a grieving mother orca over the last week, as she tows her dead calf 's body through the Puget Sound, off British Columbia . The whale has now been carrying the body for seven days throughout the region, after it died July 24.

"She was grieving," Giles said, according to the station. "She knew it was dead."

Robin Baird, a research biologist with Cascadia Research Collective, watched a similar incident unfold with another orca, also commonly called killer whales, in 2010, reported the Times.

"It reflects the very strong bonds these animals have, and as a parent, you can only imagine what kinds of emotional stress these animals must be under, having these events happen," Baird said, according to the Times.

The calf died within a few hours of being born Tuesday to an orca designated J35, from one of three pods of endangered southern resident orcas, reported CBC News.

"I looked through the binoculars and I saw that there was a new calf swimming with them," said Mark Malleson, who first spotted the calf in the San Juan Islands near the Canadian border. He notified the Center for Whale Research at Friday Harbor, Washington, reported CBC News.

But when researchers arrived, they found J35 trying to prop up her dead newborn with her nose, according to the network. Researchers again spotted her Wednesday carrying her dead calf on her head through the water.

The southern resident orca population has reached its lowest point in decades, and the species is on the brink of extinction, reported KCPQ.

Toxins, vessel traffic and loss of food, particularly chinook salmon, are believed to be responsible, reported the Times.

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