Another orca calf for J pod

population remains in a “very serious situation”

  • Apr. 8, 2015 9:00 a.m.

J52 with J16 and J50 were spotted at the end of March - increasing the population of the J pod of Orcas which find their home in the waters around Vancouver Island and Washington State.

Erin Haluschak

Record Staff

The spring season has been particularly bountiful for the Southern Resident Killer Whales, as another new baby has been born into the J pod in the waters around Vancouver Island and Washington State.

J52 is the newest member of the pod and was seen mid-day March 30 near Active Pass, B.C. by whale watchers, explained Howard Garrett, co-director of the Orca Network, based in Freeland, WA.

“There must have been some exciting meet ups,” he added with a laugh. “We were all pretty devastated when in December (when J-32/Rhapsody was found near Bates Beach) … but now we’re energized and it’s a good indication we’ve had four babies in the past two and a half years.”

While Garrett noted the population remains in a “very serious situation,” the latest birth does raise hope.

“We’ve got to look at the long term and focus on how we can provide for them in years to come,” he explained, and added one focus is the removal of dams on the lower Snake River which has blocked the passage of salmon for 40 years.

The birth brings the total number of whales in J pod to 27, and the estimated total number of Southern Resident Killer Whales to 81 (which includes K and L pods).

Garrett said mortality for baby orcas in their first year is very high – between 30 to 50 per cent of newborns don’t make it to their first birthday.

If they do survive, their mortality rate drops significantly, especially as they enter their reproductive years, he added.

“Unlike any other mammals outside of humans, female orcas are the only mammals that have menopause. They can live until 80 or 90 – very equivalent to humans. It adds to the theory that the older matriarchs have a very important role to play in passing on the traditions to others in the pod.”

Garrett noted while the pod changed its pattern in 2013 and was rarely seen, last year was a relatively normal year for spotting the whales, which was mostly near the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Georgia, and as far north as the Comox Valley and Campbell River.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Just Posted

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Gallery accepting applications for Youth Media Project

The Comox Valley Art Gallery is accepting applications for the Youth Media… Continue reading

Ribfest returning to the Comox Valley

It’s fast approaching—the fifth annual Comox Valley Ribfest takes place from Friday,… Continue reading

Merville crash closes highway in both directions

There is no estimated time of Highway 19A opening to traffic

Kayak shop in Courtenay getting back to business after crash

Operation does most of its business during busy summer months

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read