Grieving Mother Orca’s 'Tour of Grief' Sends Tragic Message
The grief of a mother orca whale who carried her dead baby for 17 days was shared worldwide. Some argue this unprecedented and heartbreaking display of mourning was meant to send a desperate message to humans.
The mother, known as J-35 to some, and Tahlequah to others, is a member of the Southern Resident community of orcas who frequent an area of ocean off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada that stretches from the San Juan Islands to Johnstone Straight. With roughly 75 individuals, this beloved population suffers from intense whale watching activities and depleted food sources due to dams, fishing, and industrial pollution.
The Southern Resident whale population was one of the first victims of SeaWorld’s horrifically cruel practices. SeaWorld decimated this population by stealing individuals for captivity, including Lolita, the infamous orca whale who has been forced to live in the Miami Seaquarium’s minuscule tank for nearly 5 decades.
Tahlequah’s “tour of grief” has touched a chord with the world, launching a global outcry to protect this community of whales. Ken Balcomb, director of Center for Whale Research, has been watching the Southern Residents for decades and offered his professional insight on Tahlequah’s actions: "It's a message. … They know they're being watched, they know what's going on and they know that there's not enough food. And maybe they know that we have something to do with it."
In March of this year, a task force was established with the goal of facilitating the Southern Resident's recovery and future sustainability. There are calls for this task force to breach the dams that are preventing the orca’s primary food source, Chinook salmon, from reaching the oceans.
Will these efforts be enough to save this mourning mother and her family? Only time will tell. Please help us to continue to fight for whales like Tahlequah and her family by making a donation today.