Viral Mother Orca Who Mourned Calf’s Death For 17 Days, Gives Birth Again

by Caroline Bynum
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Tahlequah, a 21-year-old Orca who went viral in 2018 for carrying her dead calf, has given birth again. The mother whale made news when she carried the dead infant for 17 days and nearly 1,000 miles after it died hours after birth. Now, she has become a mother again.

Known as J-35 to scientists, Tahlequah gave birth on Friday, September 4, to a healthy baby, who is designated J-57. Images of the mother and her calf are being posted to Twitter, warming the hearts of many.

Another shows a video of the superpod traveling with the new calf.

This beautiful success follows Tahlequah’s story of painful motherhood in 2018. Following the death of her calf, she carried the animal for over two weeks with her pod, traveling almost a thousand miles. The incident shot to global news headlines.

As for why she may have carried the calf, some say it is a type of “ceremonial” proceeding. “They know the calf is dead. I think this is a grieving or a ceremonial thing done by the mother,” Ken Balcomb, from the Center of Whale Research told CNN at the time. “She doesn’t want to let go.”

Surprisingly, this outward display of loss is no rare occurrence within sea life. Both whales and dolphins may display their mourning by carrying or caring for the dead, Daily Mail reports. Though the aquatic animals’ true understanding of death is debatable, it is an obvious exhibit of loss. Daily Mail continues to say scientists have documented whales and dolphins carrying dead offspring as well as holding “vigils” multiple times.

The whale’s 2018 expression of grief resonated with parents worldwide, creating a sense of bonding to the animal mother. Anyone who has experienced that deep feeling of loss could empathize with the tragedy Tahlequah must have felt, whether she fully understands the concept of death or not. Now that a new baby has joined the pod, we celebrate a different story for the viral orca. The current narrative for J-35 is one of success and new beginnings.

Outsider.com