Another orca death: Southern Resident Killer Whales down to 77

(Possibly the last photo of J32 – at right – by Melisa Pinnow, provided by Orca Network)
11:45 PM: Another death reported tonight among the endangered orcas whose home is Puget Sound and adjacent waters. The orca found dead in British Columbia is identified as a member of J Pod, J32, known as “Rhapsody,” an 18-year-old female. According to reports including this one published by the Vancouver Sun, she might have been pregnant – a necropsy will reveal whether that’s true. J32’s death comes less than two months after the death of baby L120 was reported. The Southern Resident Killer Whales’ total number is now down to 77, much lower than the triple-digit population the official “recovery plan” had envisioned by now, as discussed at this recent talk presented by The Whale Trail.

11:53 PM: We have the full Orca Network news release about J32’s death – click ahead:

A deceased orca was found earlier today near Courtenay, BC in northwest Georgia Strait and was identified as 18-year old J32, known as Rhapsody. Photos sent by Canada’s Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans were identified by Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research. J pod last visited Puget Sound in late November, and J32 was last identified and photographed with her family November 26 east of Victoria BC by the Center for Whale Research.

J32 was thought by many to be in the late stages of pregnancy last summer due to her wide girth when she breached, as she often did.

A necropsy Saturday led by Dr. Stephen Raverty will reveal if she was indeed pregnant and hopefully will find the cause of death. She was believed to have died in the past 24 to 48 hours.

J32’s mother was J20, who died in 1998 when Rhapsody was only 2 years old. She was raised by her aunt, J22 Oreo. She is survived by J22 and her cousins J34 Doublestuf and J38 Cookie, leaving only three survivors of the former J10 matriline, and only 77 members of the Southern Resident Community.

We cannot express how tragic this loss is for this struggling, precariously small, family of resident orcas of the Salish Sea. This loss bring the overall number of Southern Resident orcas below their number in 2005 when they were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The loss of J32 marks the fourth death of a Southern Resident orca in 2014. The last surviving Southern Resident baby was born in August of 2012.

11 Replies to "Another orca death: Southern Resident Killer Whales down to 77"

  • Dawn December 5, 2014 (8:18 am)

    This is very sad news; don’t even know where to start.( ; ; )

  • StopDumpingRawSewage December 5, 2014 (2:52 pm)

    Is Victoria BC still dumping raw sewage into Puget Sound? If they are we should stop visiting until they clean it up. Not the only problem but a big one.

  • G December 5, 2014 (8:33 pm)

    This could be a natural death.

  • Trish Shields December 5, 2014 (9:55 pm)

    I left the house at 7:00 this morning to bear witness to the loss of this incredible animal. Fog lay just offshore, as if cradling J32. She was tethered to an old waterlogged stump and I was hit by a weirdness of it – millions of years going from land to sea and she was landlocked at the end. I wondered at the power it took to render such a beautiful thing mute.

    Just another reason why we don’t need the pipeline in British Columbia.

  • samjesnate December 6, 2014 (6:00 am)

    I have an adopted whale from this pod… Her name is Granny!!! I hope she is ok. I am very upset over all this.

  • lifeforcefoundation December 6, 2014 (10:44 am)

    In 1964 it was the Vancouver Aquarium that started the orca slave trade. They hired a sculpture to harpoon an orca to use as a model for a sculpture. The orca died slowly over 86 days. The “Moby Doll” orca capture led to aquariums decimating the Southern and Northern Orca Communities. It started Aquarium Whaling. The hunters took at least 68 orcas with approximately 13 more dying during the abusive captures. They took an entire generation of young orcas from their families. It will take decades more for the abnormal age and sex ration to return to normal. That is if they survive the lack of salmon, pollution, boat traffic, Navy sonar tests, etc. that aquarium “education” did not help stop. The plight of orcas, belugas, and others continue through the Vancouver Aquarium partnership with Sea Worlds, Marineland, Georgia Aquarium, and others who continue to capture cetaceans from the wild.

    At Least 45 Reasons to Phase Out Captivity

    At the Vancouver Aquarium alone all 3 orca babies died, 4 out 5 beluga babies died, and a Pacific white side dolphin had 2 still births.

    Lifeforce has recently discovered that there are at least 6 more baby deaths fathered by their wild caught beluga Nanuq at the infamous Sea Worlds. This was between 2006 and 2012. Some of the births were by artificial insemination in which “manual stimulation with a glove hand” was used to get the beluga to ejaculate into an “artificial vagina”. The male had to be “trained” for 2 years. They took 42 semen samples and used 10 of them in 7 females. This makes the present total deaths resulting from the Vancouver Aquarium’s pro captivity agenda to at least 45 since 1964.

    No more talk! Take action to phase out captivity now!

  • Scott December 6, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    lack of salmon??? There were record salmon numbers this year. The salmon are fine. Also an abundance of seals to eat.

    • WSB December 6, 2014 (5:52 pm)

      The Southern Resident Killer Whales don’t eat seals. The transient orcas, who are not endangered, eat marine mammals. Two totally different populations. They eat chinook, and according to this, the fall chinook runs are far below what was expected:
      They also come into the Sound to search out chum. Have not looked up that info yet.

  • westseattledood December 6, 2014 (9:05 pm)

    It is being reported this afternoon as confirmed that she was at full term pregnancy.

  • Scott Herning December 22, 2014 (2:34 pm)

    Necropsy states she was starving to death. We need more dams down in order for salmon to flourish. Please stand with us in supporting the removal of the Lower four Snake River Dams. Let’s not Dam these creatures to death.

    Thank you

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