Orca whale that carried her dead calf at least 17 days lets it go, ending 'tour of grief'

PHOTO: Southern Resident killer whale J35 swims with her calf.PlayKelley Balcomb-Bartok/Ken Balcomb
WATCH Researchers found orca whale still holding on to her dead calf 9 days later

An orca whale that carried her dead calf more than two weeks has let go of the body, ending her "tour of grief," researchers said.

The female killer whale was first spotted on July 24 pushing the corpse of her offspring that had died 30 minutes after birth, according to the Center for Whale Research in Washington state.

On Friday, Aug. 11, the whale, called J35 and also known as Tahlequah, was seen vigorously chasing a school of salmon with her podmates in the Haro Strait near the Canada-U.S. border. She was no longer carrying the deceased calf she had pushed for at least 17 days and 1,000 miles, the center said.

“Her tour of grief is now over and her behavior is remarkably frisky,” the center wrote on its website.

Telephoto images taken from shore show that the female whale appears to be in good physical condition, the center said.

"I'm hoping this ordeal is over," center founder Ken Balcomb told ABC News.

PHOTO: Whale J35 let go of her dead calf after holding on to her more than 17 days on Aug. 11, 2018. Whale Research/San Juan Island,WA
Whale J35 let go of her dead calf after holding on to her more than 17 days on Aug. 11, 2018.

There were reports of brief sightings by whale-watchers two days ago that J35 was seen in waters near Vancouver, British Columbia, no longer pushing the calf carcass, the center's website said. “Now we can confirm that she definitely has abandoned it,” the website said.

Researchers initially planned to study the body of the dead calf to find out the cause of death, but it hasn't been seen in the water.

“The carcass has probably sunk to the bottom of these inland marine waters of the Salish Sea, and researchers may not get a chance to examine it for necropsy,” the center's website says.