Orca still carrying her dead calf after 16 days leaves researcher sobbing, shocked and heartbroken

A mother orca was spotted today still carrying her dead calf for the 16th straight day after the infant was born off the Canada coast near Victoria, British Columbia and died shortly afterwards.

Tahlequah, the 20-year-old mother orca, is also known as J35, and researchers fear she could be in danger.

“I am absolutely shocked and heartbroken," Deborah Giles, research scientist for University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca told The Seattle Times.

“I am sobbing. I can’t believe she is still carrying her calf around,” Ms Giles said.

“I am gravely concerned for the health and mental well being of J35."

Ms Giles said even if the orca's family is foraging for and sharing fish with her, she can't be getting the nutrition she needs to regain any body-mass loss that would have naturally occurred during the gestation of her foetus "and also additional loss of nutrition during these weeks of mourning".