While This Orca Mother Was Grieving, Other Female Orcas Surrounded Her In A Touching Circle Of Solidarity

While This Orca Mother Was Grieving, Other Female Orcas Surrounded Her In A Touching Circle Of Solidarity

People everywhere are empathizing with this orca mother grieving the loss of its newborn.


Her baby died approximately 30 minutes after it was born in Puget Sound, off the coast of Washington state. However, the mother had a hard time letting go. For about three days, whale researchers observed her carrying the calf's body, while carefully balancing it on her head as she swam. Even through rough waters, when her baby slipped and began to fall, the grieving mama, known to researchers as J35, dived deep to lift it back up again.


This behavior is a well-documented expression of grief among whales and dolphins, but that does not make it less devastating. "It is just absolutely gut-wrenching to watch," said Taylor Shedd of Soundwatch — a program that monitors whale-watching vessels and educates boaters to lower disturbance to marine life — in The Seattle Times.


To see such grief in any species is heartbreaking; many people can understand the unwillingness of a parent to let go of the kid they've lost.To see such grief in any species is heartbreaking; many people can understand the unwillingness of a parent to let go of the kid they've lost.


Still, what was most touching was the touching way the orca mother's pod responded to her baby's death.


Orcas live in pods of up to forty members that help each other hunt and care for young. Lodie Budwill of the Center for Whale Research observed J35 and her pod the day her baby died. She said a group of female orcas gathered in a tight circle with J35 and stayed in that formation for at least two hours. She described the scene for the Times:


"It was beautiful to observe, yet very sad knowing what had taken place earlier in the day. The sunset, the moon rose, and they remained centered in the moonbeam, continuing their circular surfacing. I perceived this to be a ceremony or ritual of some sort. It was no doubt a circle of family love and devotion. After observing for hours, it was hard to hold my binoculars up any longer."


The incredible display is strikingly similar to the way loved ones often react when a human parent loses their kid — encircling them with shared grief, solidarity, and support.


Our empathy for these creatures needs to push us to help save them. People's powerful emotional reactions to J35's grief demonstrates how connected we are, even with animals that are physically different from us in almost every way. Despite our vastly different existences, we can see ourselves reflected in this orca mother's story. But it isn't only J35 who needs our help.



Southern resident orcas in the Puget Sound are majorly endangered. While orca pods traditionally see four or five births per year, that baby was the first born in three years to this particular pod. Not only was it a loss for J35, but it was also a loss for the entire orca species in this area.


It is almost as if J35 held her baby up for days as a warning, saying, "Look at what is happening to us. Do something, please."




Orcas are among -+++++-the most contaminated marine mammals because they consume the pollutants built up in animals and organisms below them in the food chain. Pushing for legislation that limits chemicals, pesticides, and other contaminants from flowing into the ocean is one actionable step, along with reducing physical pollutants such as plastics.


Puget Sound whales are also suffering from dwindling numbers of their primary food, big Chinook salmon, which are also endangered. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order in May 2018 to come up with solutions for both species.



However, the task is daunting, and more research is needed. Multiple organizations are dedicated to orca research and conservation. Financially supporting those organizations, like the Center for Whale Research and the Orca Conservancy can be an efficient way for common people to make a real difference for these majestic creatures.


Reference: Upworthy

While This Orca Mother Was Grieving, Other Female Orcas Surrounded Her In A Touching Circle Of Solidarity While This Orca Mother Was Grieving, Other Female Orcas Surrounded Her In A Touching Circle Of Solidarity Reviewed by Katerina Pap on 6:25 AM Rating: 5

9 comments

  1. Orcas like all the other marine animals can help each other much better than people do.
    They also work as a team when hunting, so when it comes to the push, they are there to provide their support.
    I read on checkmember.com about many other members of the Animal Kingdom.

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