Orcas pass around calf's body in mourning ritual one week after its death, report says

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.  (AP)

A pod of endangered orcas, native to the Pacific Northwest waters, has been seen floating the body of a dead calf that died over a week ago.

J35, a 20-year-old whale, gave birth to the first baby orca in three years, but the calf died shortly after.

“The baby was so newborn, it didn’t have blubber. It kept sinking, and the mother would raise it to the surface,” said Ken Balcomb, a senior scientist with the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, Washington State.

Since its death last Tuesday, the mother has been seen carrying the corpse of her dead calf on her forehead, pushing it to the surface of the water.

But over a week later, Jenny Atkinson, executive director of the Whale Museum on San Juan Island, said that experts now see other members of the pod “sharing the responsibility of caring this calf,” CBC radio reported.

“They seem to be taking turns.”

Atkinson told The Associated Press earlier that the pod is experiencing a “deep grieving process.”

While at least seven species in seven geographic regions covering three oceans have been documented carrying the body of their deceased young, scientist Deborah Giles with the University Of Washington Center Of Conservation Biology said that grieving for more than 24 hours is a rare occurrence.  

The dwindling population of endangered southern resident killer whales has fallen to 75.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paulina Dedaj is a writer/ reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @PaulinaDedaj.

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