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Still, most hope she'll drop her dead calf soon just to avoid undue stress. For instance, we've all personally experienced some form of loss and the pain that comes with it, so when we see someone else grappling with the loss of a loved one, we understand, we relate, we feel their pain. People from all over the world have remained riveted as the mother killer whale has lugged the body of her dead calf around the Salish Sea.

There are plans to attempt to feed J50 while she is in USA waters, but the procedure depends on ocean conditions and the behaviour of J50 and the rest of the pod, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries biologist Lynne Barre. The fact that her body was likely prepped for lactation, too, means she has extra lipids in her blubber that will sustain her for a while.

"This is completely unprecedented, and honestly your guess is as good as ours as far as what is going on here", Deborah Giles, a research scientist at the University of Washington's Center for Conservation Biology, said in a phone interview.

Because of the tight bond between Tahlequah and her calf as well as the bond shared by the rest of the pod there is no plan to take the calf away.

Scientists have been concerned about J50, saying she has a white patch by her blow hole, her cranium is showing, and her flukes are discolored, all signs of malnutrition.

Experts have been watching the young whale lose weight since June and they took the novel action in an effort to prevent the loss of more reproductive potential within the population. This September 2015 photo provided by NOAA Fisheries shows an aerial view of adult female Southern Resident killer whale (J16) swims with her calf (J50).

Experts say Springer's case was different because she was isolated.

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16 days later, the killer whale still hasn't given up on her baby.

'I've never seen an animal this emaciated make it.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a video statement on Facebook detailing what his office is doing to protect the orca population in the waters around the state.

A statewide task force he formed has been meeting since May to come up with recommendations. A final report is due in November.

'The death of the orca calf is a heartbreaking reminder of the urgency we face in saving these iconic animals, ' the governor's spokesman Jaime Smith wrote in an email. Females reach sexual maturity in their teens, and their fertility starts to wane in their 30s or 40s, yet they have been known to live more than a century, spending their postreproductive years helping their daughters and granddaughters raise babies. She was fed live salmon in the pen. 'We have to address the issue of salmon restoration, wild salmon particularly, ' Balcomb said.

"Having not laid eyes on her personally before, it was dramatic how thin she is", Haulena said. Their movements are closely tracked and photographed by researchers, whale watchers and fans.


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