British Columbia

It's a boy! Researchers confirm sex of famous killer whale's newborn

The newly arrived calf of a southern resident killer whale famed for her marathon display of grief is male, the Center for Whale Research has confirmed.

J57 was born earlier this month to orca known for her 17-day display of grief

Newborn killer whale J57 swims beside his mother off the coast of Washington state on Sept. 22, 2020. (Sara Hysong-Shimazu/Maya's Legacy and the Pacific Whale Watch Association)

The newly arrived calf of a southern resident killer whale famed for her marathon display of grief is male, the Center for Whale Research has confirmed.

Known for now as J57, the baby orca was spotted Tuesday near Point Roberts, Washington state, rolling and spyhopping alongside mother J35, also known as Tahlequah, the American organization said in a news release.

That encounter allowed researchers to get a glimpse of the young whale's genital slit.

It's believed J57 was born on Sept. 4, the second viable offspring of J35.

The mother became famous around the world in 2018 when she carried her dead calf through west coast waters for 17 days before letting it go.

The last healthy calf born to the southern residents was in May 2019.

Killer whale calf J57 displayed his genital slit on Tuesday, allowing researchers to confirm his sex. (Sara Hysong-Shimazu/Maya's Legacy and the Pacific Whale Watch Association)

For more on the threats to the southern resident killer whales and the efforts to save them, check out CBC British Columbia's original podcast Killers: J pod on the brink, hosted by Gloria Macarenko. 

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