Reading Time: < 1 minute Tahlequah carries her calf (Photo: Michael Weiss, Center for Whale Research)
Reading Time: < 1 minute

Tahlequah,
an orca who is a member of a ‘critically endangered’ population, is finally
without her offspring after 17 days of carrying her – in a tragic display which
captivated many.

Loss

This is estimated
to be Tahlequah’s third such loss since 2010 – all deaths prompted by salmon shortages,
which have kept the population from producing healthy offspring for three
years.

The mother orca carried her most recent calf for many days on her own – retrieving her
every time she slipped from her head – but the pair’s pod eventually lightened the
load, helping her travel roughly 1,000 miles with her offspring.

‘Unprecedented’ display

While research has shown that aquatic mammals do have the capacity for such displays
of what is believed to be grief – Tahlequah’s ordeal is unlike any other
previously documented.

It is
unclear whether it finally came to an end because she wilfully dropped her calf, or because it had deteriorated over the 17-day period.

‘Alive and
well’

Fortunately,
the Center For Whale Research’s Ken Balcomb has said that Tahlequah is ‘alive
and well’ – and has ‘been eating’.

He said
also that something will ‘hopefully’ be done about the salmon shortages to
prevent losses such as Tahlequah’s, which he noted ‘may have been emotionally
hard for her’.

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination. She aims to apply a privilege-conscious and culturally sensitive approach to her work in all fields.