Quantcast

‘A Ray of Hope’: Second Baby Born to Ailing Southern Resident Orcas This Year

Animals
Southern resident killer whales off Vancouver Island, BC. MarkMalleson / iStock / Getty Images

A second baby orca has been born to the imperiled southern resident killer whales in less than six months.


The calf was spotted by John Forde and Jennifer Steven of the Whale Centre, swimming with J Pod off the coast of Tofino, BC, CBC News reported.

"We were both really excited to see the calf was very orange and still had fetal folds," Steven wrote on her website. She said they spotted the calf on Thursday and posted photos as proof.

The birth of the calf was confirmed by experts on both sides of the Canadian and U.S. border, as the whales roam the waters between Washington state and BC.

Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada shared the news on Twitter.

The Washington-state-based Center for Whale Research, which is the official recorder of southern resident demographics, also confirmed the birth, The Seattle Times reported.

"Researchers at the CWR have confirmed that the calf is a new addition, and based on its coloration and body condition was likely born some time in the last 1 to 3 weeks," the group wrote in a press release. "The calf was photographed in association with several J pod females, including J31, J46, and J40. More field observations are needed to confirm the identity of the calf's mother."

The birth comes around five months after a calf was born to L Pod in January. Since that calf is still alive, the new birth brings the southern resident population up to 76 whales. However, experts warn that only around 50 percent of orca calves survive their first year.

"It looked like it's doing really well, fingers crossed," Forde told The Seattle Times of the new baby.

Until January, the southern resident killer whales had not given birth to a surviving baby since 2016. A calf born in the summer of 2018 lived only half an hour. Its mother, Tahlequah, then carried the body for a heartbreaking 17 days, bringing international attention to the whales' plight.

The southern resident killer whale population is currently at a 30-year low, CBC News reported. This is largely due to a drop in their primary food source: Chinook salmon. In December of 2018, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a plan to boost the population of both whales and salmon.

Donna Sandstrom, a member of the Governor's Task Force on Whale Recovery, called the sighting "a ray of hope" in an email to The Seattle Times.

"Southern resident killer whales, their population is small so any birth is huge," DFO Marine Mammal Co-ordinator Paul Cottrell told CBC News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia. Recently planted oil palms can be seen in the bright green grassy areas and a tiny bit of natural rainforest still struggles for survival farther away. Vaara / E+ / Getty Images

Palm Oil importers in Europe will not be able to meet their self-imposed goal of only selling palm oil that is certified deforestation-free, according to a new analysis produced by the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition, as Bloomberg reported.

Read More Show Less
Scientists found the most melting near Mould Bay on Prince Patrick Island, NWT, Canada. University of Alaska Fairbanks Permafrost Laboratory

The Canadian Arctic is raising alarm bells for climate scientists. The permafrost there is thawing 70 years earlier than expected, a research team discovered, according to Reuters. It is the latest indication that the global climate crisis is ramping up faster than expected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Cherries are one of the most beloved fruits, and for good reason.

Read More Show Less
A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

Read More Show Less
European Union blue and gold flags flying at the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium. 35007/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Newly adopted guidelines set forth by the European Commission Tuesday aim to tackle climate change by way of the financial sector. The move comes to bolster the success of the Sustainable Action Plan published last year to reorient capital flows toward sustainable investment and manage financial risks from climate change, environmental degradation and social issues.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, Ontario on March 4. Arindam Shivaani / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government would once again approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil transported from Alberta's tar sands to the coast of British Columbia (BC).

Read More Show Less
An exhausted polar bear wanders the streets of Norilsk, a Siberian city hundreds of miles from its natural habitat. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP / Getty Images

An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.

Read More Show Less
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less