In this photo taken Tuesday, July 24, 2018, a baby orca whale is being pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria. The new orca died soon after being born. (Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP)

Endangered killer whale dies off B.C. coast soon after birth

It was the first calf born in three years to the endangered orcas in Pacific Northwest

  • Jul. 25, 2018 1:23 p.m.

The first calf born in three years to the endangered orcas that spend time in Pacific Northwest waters died Tuesday, the latest troubling sign for a population already at its lowest in more than three decades.

A dead whale was seen being pushed to the surface by her mother just a half hour after it was spotted alive in the waters off the coast of Victoria, said Ken Balcomb, senior scientist with the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, which closely tracks each individual whale.

The mother was seen propping the newborn on her forehead and trying to keep it near the surface of the water, he said. “The baby was so newborn it didn’t have blubber. It kept sinking, and the mother would raise it to the surface.”

The distinctive black-and-white whales have struggled since they were listed as an endangered species in the U.S. and Canada over a decade ago. They’re not getting enough of the large, fatty Chinook salmon that make up their main diet. They also face threats from toxic pollution and noise and disturbances from boats.

A statewide task force formed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has been meeting since spring to come up with ways to help the population. Efforts include slowing down state ferries to reduce the effect of noise, increasing hatchery production of salmon, training more commercial whale-watching boats to help respond to oil spills, and prioritizing areas where important habitat can be restored to help fish and orcas.

Balcomb and others say more aggressive measures are needed. They have called for the removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River to restore salmon runs.

READ MORE: Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

There are just 75 of the orcas, down from 98 in 1995.

The number is a concern, but the bigger issue is the reproductive status of the small population, Balcomb said. There are 28 whales of reproductive age, and only 14 have produced calves in the last decade.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Film documents transformation of snowboarders, surfers

Former professional athletes forged deep ties with communities

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Transitioning back into the world

Courtenay man had been living outdoors before starting Sally Ann program

A cuddle and a coffee: Six Island towns named among Canada’s most cozy

Sidney, Campbell River, Courtenay, Parksville, Tofino and Ucluelet crack Expedia’s top 40

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Most Read