On 25th of July, 20-year-old Tahlequah, an orca (killer) whale gave birth to the first baby of her pod since 2015. 

But, the baby died soon after because it was born with too little fat to survive in the harsh cold.


Usually, in such situations, whales let the body sink to the floor of the ocean; but Tahlequah didn’t. 

ABC News

She just wouldn’t let go of the baby and carried the dead body on her head for 17 days. 

During this time, Tahlequah travelled around 1000 miles with her pod.

Washington Post

As soon as the body would start sinking, she’d catch hold of it and at times even pushed it above the water surface to breathe. 

This behaviour, although typical of orca mothers, started bothering marine biologists who were worried about the whale’s physical and mental health. 


Deborah Giles, a killer whale biologist from the University of Washington, told The Seattle Times:

Even if her family is foraging for and sharing fish with her. (She) cannot be getting the nutrition she needs to regain any body-mass loss that would have naturally occurred during the gestation of her fetus.
Yakima Herald

While further adding:

I am absolutely shocked and heartbroken. I can’t believe she is still carrying her calf around.

After 17 days, the whale has finally let go of the body now, evoking emotional responses from all over the world.

Nothing like a mother’s love, indeed.