Orca mother still carrying dead calf, marking 16th day of 'tour of grief'

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. -- A southern resident orca mother is still carrying her dead and decomposing calf, more than two weeks after she was first spotted holding on to her offspring.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Q13 News the department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada spotted the orca carrying the calf Wednesday near the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. She was seen alongside the rest of her J Pod group.

J35 was first spotted July 24 carrying the calf on her nose and in her mouth. The calf was only seen alive briefly. By the time biologists from the Center for Whale Research arrived at her side, the calf was dead.

A week ago, the dead calf was decomposing and had lost its rigidity. Previously, the mother was in OK shape, but her health now is unknown.

Researchers across the field said J35's actions are unprecedented. The traumatic scene unfolding day after day has weighed on scientists who watch the mammals closely.

J50, a starving 3-year-old orca, was also spotted alongside the pod.

On Tuesday, federal officials said they received legal permission to move forward with the treatment of J50. The emergency plan is to inject the killer whale with antibiotics through a pole system from a boat.

This story is breaking and will be updated shortly.