If we see the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales sometime soon here in central Puget Sound, look – from shore – for that new little one, J57. The Center for Whale Research has published its announcement about seeing the new calf (first reported by Lynda Mapes in The Seattle Times), accompanied by researchers’ photos (which we are republishing with permission).
CWR believes Friday is the day J35 – at right, above, with the new baby and J47 – gave birth. Their researchers saw the newborn on Saturday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. J35 is also known as Tahlequah, who broke hearts around the world two years ago by carrying her dead calf on her head for 1,000 miles before finally letting it go. Researchers knew she was pregnant again – orca gestation is 18 months – but she had not yet given birth as of researchers’ sightings in Haro Strait last Tuesday and Thursday, when they also saw the other expectant J-Pod orca, J41. In the Saturday sighting, CWR reports, the “new calf appeared healthy and precocious, swimming vigorously alongside its mother in its second day of free-swimming life.”
CWR’s announcement adds, “We hope this calf is a success story. Regrettably, with the whales having so much nutritional stress in recent years, a large percentage of pregnancies fail, and there is about a 40% mortality for young calves.” For now, though, the SRKWs number 73, and advocates are hoping for a reduction in other stresses such as boat noise (we reported earlier this week on the request that U.S. whale-watching boats pledge to join their Canadian counterparts in not following the SRKWs).