Many often wonder if animals have some of the same emotional qualities that humans do, but a lot of people have doubted that animals have the ability to mourn. While different cases and situations have often proved differently, one recent situation has really shown that animals feel very strong emotions. An orca whale living off the coast of Washington has now been carrying her dead calf around for two days to grieve its loss after she watched it die shortly after birth.
As reported by The Seattle Times, a new calf was born on Tuesday to an orca whale off of the coast of Washington. The highly-endangered killer whale lost the newborn as it ended up dying within a half hour of its birth and right in front of its mother.
The calf’s mother is known as J35 and the loss of her baby is only one of many that have happened in the last few years. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research stated that it had been three years since the southern resident killer whales had a successful pregnancy.
As sad as it was that the baby died very shortly after birth, things continued to look quite tragic for J35. On Thursday, the orca whale had refused to let her calf go and was seen still carrying the baby around with her as she grieved her loss.
Earlier this week, an orca off the coast of Washington gave birth. The calf died within half an hour, and the mother has been carrying its body since https://t.co/HqejxKBEd3
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) July 26, 2018
As reported by National Geographic, the baby ended up sliding off of the snout of J35 on a number of occasions and falling into the water. The mother whale would then dive down to retrieve her baby and put the calf right back on her snout to continue swimming around with her.
Brad Hanson is a wildlife biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and he spoke of just how sad the entire situation is and the emotional toll it is taking on this whale.
“It is unbelievably sad. It reflects the very strong bonds these animals have, and as a parent, you can only imagine what kinds of emotional stress these animals must be under, having these events happen.”
This is not the first time that something like this has happened as more than six species of the marine mammals have been seen clinging to the dead bodies of those they have lost. Experts have simply stated that this is due to the grief they are experiencing in losing a mate, friend, or family member.
Orca whales truly do understand the grieving process and know what it means to mourn. This is completely evident by the killer whale known as J35 who has carried around her dead baby calf for the last two days since it died shortly after birth. While the photos of the animal with her baby on her snout have now gone viral, the reasoning behind them existing at all is purely sad and tragic. No one quite knows how long this behavior will continue, but it is obvious she just doesn’t want to let go.