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WDC provides supportive care to a live-stranded common dolphin. Credit: Andrea Spence/IFAW

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Expands Marine Mammal Stranding Network Territory

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation team expands the Greater Atlantic Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network...
Hysazu Photography | Sara Shimazu

Dam Good News for Southern Resident orcas

Pardon the pun (we've used it before) but we just can't help ourselves.  After decades...
Peter Flood mom and calf

Emergency Petition Seeks to Shield Right Whale Moms, Calves From Vessel Strikes

For Immediate Release, November 1, 2022 WASHINGTON-Conservation groups filed an emergency rulemaking petition with the...
The Yushin Maru catcher ship of the Japanese whaling fleet injures a whale with its first harpoon attempt, and takes a further three harpoon shots before finally killing the badly injured fleeing whale. Finally they drowned the mammal beneath the harpooon deck of the ship to kill it.  Southern Ocean.  07.01.2006

Moves to overturn whaling ban rejected

Last week, the 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC, the body that regulates...

Confirmed! There is a New Southern Resident Orca Calf from K Pod!

CONFIRMED! On July 9th, 2022 the Center for Whale Research confirmed the newest member of the Southern Resident orca community! See photo above ©Center for Whale Research

Center for Whale Research designated this newborn as K45 and reports "K45's sex is unknown at this time. Its size and shape are typical of a calf in good physical condition. K45 is the first calf born into K Pod since 2011 when K27 gave birth to K44 (male)."

Read the full press release. 

K pod calf screencap

A hopeful and interesting update on the Southern Resident orcas: in late April, photos and video were taken of part of L and K pods off the coast of Oregon and shared with the Center for Whale Research.  Among the familiar fins of K pod was a special sighting: an extra-small fin trailing close behind Spock (K20), born in 1986.  Could it be a new baby in this endangered community of orcas?!  And not just a new baby, but the FIRST observed living calf in K pod since 2011?

The short answer is: we don’t know yet, but we are hopeful and cautiously optimistic.

The Center for Whale Research (CWR) and other Southern Resident orca experts want to observe K pod and the potential new calf in person before confirming. 

Spring is typically when the Southern Residents begin to return to their summer foraging grounds in the Salish Sea, and when CWR begins the bulk of its observations of the whales, so we hope K pod returns to this area soon, new baby in tow.

This sighting is unusual not only for the new calf, which would be the first in over a decade in K pod, but also for the location.  While the Southern Residents have been detected in various locations off the Oregon Coast in every season, they are most often in this area in the winter and early spring.  By April and May they historically move north into summer habitat areas.  But with changes in their “normal” distribution in recent years, the whales have been spending more time in coastal habitats, likely looking for Chinook salmon, their main food.

A new calf in K pod is particularly exciting.  While pregnancies have been observed in this pod in recent years, no living calves have been seen.  Researchers aren’t sure why, but it is known that impacts from contaminants and nutritional stress can affect the health of individual whales, especially their reproductive systems.  If (when?!) the new calf is confirmed, they’re going to have an epic birthday party.

While we wait for news, you can help us make sure the Southern Residents and any new calves have enough to eat in these coastal waters.  Join our call to remove the lower Snake River dams and restore a vital source of food for the Southern Residents.

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