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Orca mom carries baby for ninth day, as its body starts to decompose

Marine biologist Taylor Shedd has told The Record that the grieving orca mother — known as Tahlequah or J35 — is carrying her dead calf for a ninth day. The baby's body has started to decompose.

The killer whale delivered her baby on Tuesday last week. Half an hour later, the calf died.

Since then, Tahlequah has carried her baby hundreds of miles, drawing a captivated audience from around the world to her moving vigil.  

Rough seas are making it increasingly difficult for researchers to monitor the whale and her health.

Shedd, a coordinator at The Whale Museum's Soundwatch program, spoke to Bill Radke from a boat that is monitoring Tahlequah in the Strait of Georgia, close to the Canadian border.

"It's just so sad and hard to see," Shedd said of observing her grieving process. "I just wish we could do more for her right now."

"I can't even pretend to imagine what she must be going through," the marine biologist told Radke. "It's just this rollercoaster of emotions."

But, he said researchers have no plans to intervene and curtail the orca's mourning: "This is something that she needs to go through, and her family needs to go through."

Shedd later updated The Record by text, saying that while Tahlequah appears to be doing okay, "the calf she is carrying is clearly decomposing and starting to lose its rigid form."

"We are planning on staying with her for a few more hours before completing an oil change on our research vessel this evening."

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