A bountiful spring is being matched by an equally bountiful fall for the Southern Resident Killer Whales J pod, as a new calf was spotted Oct. 24.
In a release from The Center for Whale Research, the calf was first seen in Haro Strait early in the day and later photographed by CWR staff in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The calf – designated by the CWR as J53 – was seen closely travelling with a 38-year-old female, J17, who is the presumed mother.
J17 has previously had three offspring: two daughters – J28 and J35 (now adult), with two grand offspring – J46 and J47, and a son, J44, born in 2009.
The CWR believes the calf was no more than 10 days old at the time it was spotted Saturday.
In September, another calf was spotted in the waters near Sooke; part of the L pod, it was named L122 and was seen with L91.
The L pod whales were joined by J and K pod members.
Howard Garrett, co-director of the Orca Network based in Washington state, 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.
For more information, visit whaleresearch.com