Captain’s Blog

Orca Calves – The Latest Update

July 1, 2015

The birth of four new calves in the Southern Resident Orca community offers new hope for these critically endangered marine mammals.  After a 2 year lull of no births, researchers are pleased to have discovered these four calves in a period of only three months.  Three of the calves were born to J pod and one to L pod.

First discovered on Dec 30, 2014, J50 was photographed with her mother J16 Slick.  J16 Slick was born in 1972 and is currently recorded as the oldest female southern resident orca in the last 4 decades to give birth.  This is her sixth calf since 1991, 4 of which are still alive (J26 Mike 1991, J36 Alki 1999, J42 Echo 2007 and J50).  Scares (teeth marks) on the dorsal fin of J50 lead researchers to believe that this was a very difficult birth and another female orca, acting as midwife, must have had to use a lot of force to help deliver the 400lb, 7ft long J50.

J51 was the next new calf to be discovered on Feb 12, 2015.  Although the gender is still unknown, the calf appears to be healthy as it travels with mother J19 Shachi (1979) and sister J41 Eclipse (2005).

The third birth to the southern resident community was in L Pod, L121. L94 Calypso (1995) and daughter L113 Cousteau (2009) were seen with a new calf on Feb 25th.  Although this is only the second calf to L94 Calypso, it was born into a strong matriline referred to as the L12’s, after the late grandmother of the group, L12 Alexis (1933-2012).  The L12’s consist of Calypso’s older brother L41 Mega (1977, oldest male in southern resident community), older sister L77 Matia (1987) and niece L119 Joy (2012).

Most recent, on April 7th, J52 was added to the mix.  J36 Alki (1999) is not only the proud new sister of J50, but now the mother of her very first calf J52.  J52 has been reported to a be healthy and active member of J pod and continually seen in very close proximity of her mother and the other members of their matriline (6 members in total).

 

Photo Compilation Credit: Rylee Jensen

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