The mother of a dead orca carries her off the coast of Victoria

The 20-year-old whale has been carrying her dead calf through the water for seven days, after she died last Tuesday shortly after giving birth. Only 75 of the mammals remain in the pod

The "afflicted" mother of an endangered orca who died shortly after birth has tended to her baby's body for three days because she "does not want to let him go".

The calf orca Puget Sound was the first born of this orca species in danger of extinction in almost three years.

After the devastating loss of their offspring, the mother was seen propping the dead newborn on her forehead and trying to keep it floating near the surface in the waters off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia.

Earlier this year, a study by a nonprofit organization revealed that whales and dolphins will have "vigils" for their dead. The animals are They cling to the lifeless bodies of their young for days and will try to keep them safe from predators.

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The 20-year-old whale has been carrying her dead calf through the water for seven days, after she died last Tuesday shortly after giving birth. Only 75 of the mammals remain in the pod

The mother & # 39; afflicted & # 39; of an endangered orca that died shortly after birth has tended to the body of your little one for three days because you do not want to let it go.

& # 39; The baby was so newborn that he had no fat. It continued to sink, and the mother brought it to the surface, "said Ken Balcomb, principal scientist at the Whale Research Center on San Juan Island, which tracks individual whales closely.

Yesterday, the mother, who has been labeled J35, entered her third day of mourning, according to Dr. Balcomb, who said she had never observed a whale cry for so long.

It's horrible. This is an animal that is a sensitive being, "Deborah Giles, director of science and research at the non-profit organization Wild Orca, told The Seattle Times.

"Understand the social ties you have with the rest of the members of your family."

& # 39; (The mother) is attached to (the calf) and does not want to let go. It's that easy. She is distressed, "he added.

According to Dr. Giles, the other members of the family knew that J35 was pregnant due to its sonar, which the animals also used to communicate with each other.

"Then, they must also be afflicted," he said.

In June, researchers revealed that it was not uncommon for whales and dolphins to continue to cling to their dead offspring for days.

The orca calf Puget Sound was the first born in three years of this species of endangered orca that lives in the waters of the Pacific Northwest

The orca calf Puget Sound was the first born in three years of this species of endangered orca that lives in the waters of the Pacific Northwest

The orca calf Puget Sound was the first born in three years of this species of endangered orca that lives in the waters of the Pacific Northwest

The experts from Dolphin Biology and Conservation at Oceancare in Cordenons, Italy, analyzed 78 records of treatment of aquatic mammals from their dead between 1970 and 2016.

More than 90 percent of the dolphins studied were attentive to their deaths, and the afflicted women constituted three-quarters of these interactions.

Seventy-five percent of the incidents were of adult females who cared for their dead calf, and some of them carried decomposing bodies for up to a week.

The behavior often involved one or more people attending the deceased.

They tried to keep the dead creature afloat if it sank or pushed it down if it was too floating, even making attempts at "resuscitation".

The researchers detected mothers who seemed to cry for other women in the group.

They also observed this poignant behavior in a herd of whales with the corpse of an adult male who may have died after a fight.

WHY DO SCIENTISTS THINK THAT WHALES AND DOLPHINS CRY?

Whales and dolphins have been seen & # 39; bearing & # 39; or taking care of their dead young several times.

These creatures may be in mourning or have not accepted or acknowledged that the offspring or partner have died.

Scientists still do not know if aquatic mammals really recognize death and are looking to do more research on this subject.

In 2016, scientists found evidence that whales and dolphins perform "vigils" for their dead.

They analyzed several cases in which mammals clung to the bodies of dead compatriots and watched over a dead companion.

At that time, they said that the most likely explanation was mourning.

The study compiled observations of 14 events.

They discovered that mothers used to take their dead youngsters over the water, often flanked by friends.

In many cases, the dead pups broke down, indicating that they had been kept for a long time.

The researchers wrote in their article, published in Zoology, that an explanation of this behavior could be "a strong bond that gives rise to a difficulty to" get carried away ", possibly related to grief.

They said that the practice of postmortem attentive behavior (PAB) could be because people had not "recognized or accepted that a descendant or partner had died".

This most recent orca death represents another reproductive failure for salmon-eating southern orc orcas that typically appear in the waters of Puget Sound from spring to fall.

This is the latest worrying sign for a population that is already at its lowest point in more than three decades.

The distinctive black and white killer whales have had problems since they were listed as endangered species in the United States and Canada more than a decade ago.

They are not getting enough large, fatty Chinook salmon that makes up their main diet.

They also face superimposed threats of toxic pollution and noise and boat disturbances.

Female killer whales have had pregnancy problems due to nutritional stress related to the lack of salmon.

A multi-year study conducted last year by the University of Washington and other researchers found that two-thirds of orca pregnancies failed between 2007 and 2014.

About half of the 11 calves born during a famous baby boom several years ago have died.

"On average, we expect calves to be born every year, the fact that we have not seen any in several years and then have a reproductive failure is further proof that we have a serious problem with reproductive viability in the population," said Brad. Hanson, wildlife biologist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

To add to the concerns is the health of a 4-year-old female orca known as J-50.

Dr. Hanson said she looked thin and "clearly emaciated" when he and others watched from a boat on Saturday near San Juan Island while collecting breath samples from the whale.

The breath droplets will be analyzed in search of possible pathogens. It could be that the animal is starving, or some other disease process is causing them not to want to eat, said Dr. Hanson.

Dr. Giles, who was studying the whales, had alerted Dr. Hanson to a foul odor in the killer whale's breath, a smell detected in other orcas that later died. But the whale did not smell so bad on Saturday.

"You could see the shape of his skull through his fat," said Dr. Giles.

"I've never seen an animal so emaciated, but I'm hopeful that it will recover."

Several groups said Wednesday that the loss of the calf underscores the need for quick action.

The Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, signed an executive order in March ordering state agencies to take immediate action to help orcas.

A working group at the state level that has formed has been meeting since May to present recommendations. A report must be submitted later this year.

Since then, an adult male killer whale disappeared in June and is presumed dead. At present, there are only 75 of the killer whales, compared to 98 in 1995.

"The death of the orca calf is a heartrending reminder of the urgency we face in saving these iconic animals," governor spokesman Jaime Smith wrote in an email.

The team is considering a variety of efforts, from increasing salmon production at the hatchery, training more private boats to help respond to oil spills and prioritizing areas where an important habitat can be restored.

But Balcomb and others say that more aggressive measures are needed.

They have requested the elimination of four dams in the Lower Snake River to restore the salmon runs. "We have to address the issue of salmon restoration, especially wild salmon," Balcomb said.

Orcas are different from other killer whales because they eat salmon instead of marine mammals.

Individual whales are also identified by unique markings or variations in their fin shapes, and each whale receives a number and a name. Their movements are closely followed and photographed by researchers, whale watchers and fanatics.

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