Mother orca Tahlequah, or J35, had carried her dead calf for seven days, but it's unclear whether she was still carrying the baby as high winds swept the Salish Sea.
Researchers were frustrated by high winds Tuesday in the Salish Sea as they tried to track mother orca Tahlequah, or J35, who has captured worldwide attention for carrying her dead calf for a full week.
No one had seen the whale by 5 p.m., and researchers were unable to confirm if she was still clinging to her baby for an eighth day because of the weather and the whale’s travels.
J35, a member of the critically endangered southern-residents clan, gave birth to a calf July 24 that lived for only a half-hour. She refused to let go of the calf, carrying it continuously for seven days.
She was last seen carrying the calf at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Boundary Pass, said Taylor Shedd of Soundwatch, who has been keeping vigil with the whales. The whale had been traveling about 6 knots and was falling behind her family, which had stayed with her since the calf’s death.
Members of her clan were seen at Hein Bank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca by early afternoon Tuesday but it had not been confirmed if Tahlequah was among them.