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Mama orca drops her dead calf after 17 days, ending 'tour of grief'

A grieving mother orca has finally let her dead calf go, ending her "tour of grief."

J35, also known as Tahlequah, was seen Saturday off San Juan Island without the calf, the Center for Whale Research said in a web post.

The calf died soon after birth in July, and the orca mom had carried the body for more than two weeks while traveling hundreds of miles with her pod.

Researchers called the display of grief unprecedented in its length, and people worldwide expressed anguish as they followed the story.

But the center said J35 was seen Saturday afternoon just off its headquarters and "vigorously chased" salmon with her pod. The center said the whale appeared to be in good condition and "her behavior is remarkably frisky."

The center said she had been seen briefly two days before without the calf, but the sighting Saturday was confirmation that her "tour of grief" was at an end.

Scientists are still concerned about another whale in her pod, J50, which has appeared to be sick and starving.

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