Grieving orca still carrying her dead calf more than two weeks later

A baby orca whale was pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria British Columbia. The new orca died soon after being born and was seen on Tuesday

Canada has received and is granting a permit for scientists to assess and treat the young orca, a female, in Canadian waters.

An endangered orca was spotted Wednesday still clinging to her dead and decomposing calf, more than two weeks after her newborn died in what scientists have said is an "unprecedented" showing of grief.

"We have obvious concerns about the displacement of her behaviour away from foraging and feeding towards carrying her calf, and concerns over the length of time this behaviour continues", said Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) killer whale researcher Sheila Thornton.

"Removing the calf would be a very, very hard decision, and obviously we would have to take many factors into consideration, so that's now not on the table", she said. Previously, the mother was in OK shape, but her health now is unknown. The sick three-and-a-half-year-old whale has lost significant weight and is feared to have an infection. She was seen alongside the rest of her J Pod group.

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Tahlequah is part of the Southern Resident population which the NOAA Fisheries says is critically endangered.

J50 was last seen on Wednesday, keeping up with her group, J-pod.

Brad Hanson, wildlife biologist with NOAA is standing by at Friday Harbor, along with a team of vets and biologists to venture out on the waters to examine her closely.

The veterinarian would make an assessment and possibly give her broad-spectrum antibiotics. It's now been 16 days and the orca mother still doesn't want to say goodbye.

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"We've been saying it for 20 years, the humans who have been studying these animals", Giles said, before noting that now "the animals themselves in the last three weeks, it's nearly like they've taken the torch".

Sunday might be the earliest they can make this expedition, as winds and fog are forecast through Saturday.

"What we need to do is match the course and speed of the whales and then move very calmly in so we don't disrupt them".

In addition to the breath test, they will look for visual clues, such as lesions on the J50's skin, body condition, how she moves and surfaces.

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