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

"Progress!" NOAA Fisheries declared in a tweet. "Response teams today reached J Pod in Canadian waters and followed them into USA waters near San Juan Island". While very skinny & small, J50 kept up with her mother & siblings.

Vancouver Aquarium's head veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, examined the orca.

"The team obtained a breath sample to help assess infection & and gave antibiotics".

The tweet says the next step is to decide if trial feeding of J50 should proceed, although it says that will depend on the location of the pod, as well as water and weather conditions. "Great work by the teams on the water!" She was last spotted Wednesday.

It's been over two weeks, but one grieving mother hasn't come to terms with her newborn's death.

"Tracking the animals in close proximity is challenging", Hanson said, mentioning that breath sampling is almost impossible in bad weather.

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From the Center for Whale Research.

On a call Thursday morning, a team of scientists say it's possible that the mother's body, primed for lactation, could be sustaining her. Dolphin and whale fat is packed with energy.

The U.S. and Canada have no plans to remove J50 from her pod in order to feed or medicate her, as that would likely cause too much stress to J50 and her pod.

The whale known as J35 was spotted in coastal waters near the border between B.C. and Washington state Wednesday with the carcass of her calf that was born and died on July 24.

Scientists are anxious that Tahlequah's behavior may harm her health, and they are keeping a close eye on her. Her immediate family has been spotted helping her eat.

"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. Cold water may attribute to the lack of decomposition. She was still holding her dead calf, marking day 17 of her "tour of grief".

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