Orca Who Carried Dead Calf For 17 Days Is Officially Pregnant Again

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
The Orca Who Carried Her Dead Calf For 17 Days Is Pregnant Again
KING 5/Youtube

Finally, there is something to celebrate

The Puget Sound orca named Tahlequah, who carried her dead calf for 17 days over 1,00 miles and broke hearts all over the world, is pregnant once again.

Video of the mom mourning her calf’s death captured the world’s attention in the summer of 2018. We watched as she grieved the loss of her baby — one of the most chilling and relatable scenes ever recorded in nature. The calf was born alive but died a short while later. It was the first baby in her pod in three years, the Seattle Times reported. Now, there is reason to celebrate — she is officially expecting again.

“We are saddened to report that a baby Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) died a short time after it was born near Victoria, British Columbia on July 24, 2018,” the Center for Whale Research posted to their Instagram page at the time. “The newborn whale was reported alive and swimming with its mother, J35, and other members of J pod near Clover Point on the Victoria shoreline in mid-morning.”

Tahlequah is part of the Southern Resident whales that live in the Puget Sound. They are a group of orcas that were listed as endangered in 2005. According to the National Wildlife Federation, climate change and pollution are threats to the orcas as is a dwindling food supply. For the three pods, which researchers have dubbed J, K, and L, the promise of another baby is massive. Orcas only give birth three to five times during their lives and a healthy baby could mean its future.

Scientists John Durban, senior scientist of Southall Environmental Associates and Holly Fearnbach, marine mammal research director for the nonprofit SR3, recorded drone images of the pods and discovered several pregnancies amid the J, K, and L pods. The photography is done non-invasively by a remote-activated drone flown above the whales.

In the photo, you can see the image of Tahlequah from this month compared to one in September 2019 shows her middle larger, signaling a pregnancy. The gestation period for orca whales is 15 to 18 months, however, only one out of three pregnancies will result in a healthy calf.

I think I speak for everyone invested in Tahlequah that we’ll be sending a million positive vibes her way and will hopefully soon see a new little calf swimming beside her.

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