A mother's grief upon the death her offspring is unimaginable. Two years ago, the world watched a mother orca who upon losing her newborn, carried it around as she moved for over two weeks. Now, that same orca is pregnant again.
SR3, a non-profit dedicated to improving marine wildlife health and welfare, announced over the weekend that Tahlequah or J35, as she's known by researchers, was expecting.
Sh isn't the only Southern Resident orca expecting.
A number of pregnant whales have been identified in all 3 Southern Resident pods. It's critical that they are given plenty of space during this important time. https://t.co/3Z281G79aK pic.twitter.com/mUo4KnWWZE— SR3 (@SR3Sealife) July 26, 2020
According to drone photos, she's just one of several pregnant killer whales that have been identified by researchers since early July, according to SR3, a sea life response, rehab, and research group.
In 2018 Tahlequah swam with her dead infant for 17 days. Refusing to let it fall, she forced the carcass across the coast of Canada and the Northwestern US into the Pacific ocean.
According to SR3, the orca population is a broad blended family consisting of three social classes, or pods, with orcas come from each pod. Nonetheless, it is uncertain exactly how many.
Due to their endangered status, the pregnancy boom among this population may seem like a hopeful prospect. But scientists at SR3 say it is nothing unusual and noted that many southern resident pregnancies have resulted in unsuccessful births due to poor nutrition linked to a lack of prey.
"Studies by our colleagues at the University of Washington have shown that these reproductive failures are linked to nutrition and access to their Chinook salmon prey," the online release by SR3 said. "So, we hope folks on the water can give the Southern Residents plenty of space to forage at this important time."
SR3 shared photos online of J35 and L72, another pregnant orca. The aerial images of both orcas show their body sizes in September, when they were several months into their pregnancies, and recently in July, with an increased width mid-body, revealing that they're in their final stages.