She added that even without the pleading calf, the mother orca's position would be concerning. "It is not a natural position for a mother to take up - stationary for more than two to three minutes at a time is abnormal - even when resting, orcas are moving - and vertical like that, below the surface, for more than a minute or two is definitely abnormal," she said.
"The calf is probably not getting the milk it needs," Rose added.
SeaWorld claims that most orca calves nurse for around one year and "occasionally" up to two, but Makani, who's still trying to nursing at more than 2 years old, clearly shows the flaw in SeaWorld's weaning estimates.
Rose said that SeaWorld uses this false claim to justify separating calves from their mothers well before it's healthy.
"Some mothers allow nursing from calves who are 3, 4, 5 years old, even older – apron-string moms, you know?" she said. "Basically as long as she can produce a little milk on demand and she doesn't have another calf, the kid will get some."
"I've seen pretty independent calves at one year - I've seen utterly dependent ones at three years," she added, emphasizing that there's not "clear-cut" answer for when calves stop depending on their mothers.
SeaWorld did not respond to The Dodo's request for comment.