May 31 2019: Breaking news from Canada! The Whale Centre in Tofino, British Columbia shared the news this afternoon that a fresh new calf was spotted yesterday afternoon with J pod of the endangered Southern Resident orca population. Researchers with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Center for Whale Research were notified and are reviewing the photos taken by The Whale Centre.
We at WDC are over the moon about this news, and have our fingers, toes, and everything else crossed for this little calf’s future. The Center for Whale Research – the official keepers of population data for Southern Resident orcas – have yet to confirm the new calf and provide an update on who the mother is, and we eagerly await their official announcement. While J41 (Eclipse) was reported to be in the late stages of pregnancy by researchers with NOAA Fisheries last fall, she has not yet been seen with a calf, and the families of new calves sometimes group so closely together it can be hard to determine who the mother is right away.
As always with the Southern Residents, we are cautiously optimistic for the future of this unique community. New calves are beacons of hope, and also reminders that the orcas are doing their part to survive and thrive – it’s up to us to make sure they have an environment they can live in!
Photo Credit: John Forde, The Whale Centre (Tofino, BC)