Killers: J pod on the brink
Podcast about the fate of B.C.’s orcas available now
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In the summer of 2018, a mother killer whale captivated the world as she carried her dead calf for 17 days. Some call it grief; many say it served as a wake-up call for the plight of her endangered pod - J pod - and the health of the Pacific Ocean.
In the new CBC British Columbia original podcast, Killers: J pod on the brink, CBC Radio One's award-winning host Gloria Macarenko dives deep into the elements putting B.C.'s orca population at risk, exploring climate change, pollution, and politics.
The southern resident killer whale population currently sits at 73 orcas from three pods. All are endangered, and there is ongoing strife over the cause and what can be done to save them. Every birth and every loss in J pod makes waves beyond the Pacific Ocean, touching the hearts of many British Columbians.
EPISODE 1: TAPPING OUT
Hope turns to dismay as a new J pod calf dies before researchers arrive. When mother J35 carries its corpse for 17 days and 1000 miles, the world wakes up to the plight of the southern residents.
EPISODE 2: SEA OF NOISES
Each southern resident pod uses a distinctive dialect of calls to communicate. These calls can travel ten miles or more underwater. To what extent does increased ocean noise - often from ships - play a role in the decline and threats to J pod?
EPISODE 3: PEANUT HEAD
J pod's family matriarch is showing signs of peanut head: an orca condition involving extreme fat loss around the head due to malnutrition. Experts agree that the southern residents are not getting enough fish to eat, but it might not be as simple as a decline in their main food source, Chinook salmon.
EPISODE 4: THE WATER IS THE STARTING POINT
J pod is an urban orca family, and a major factor impacting its members are the changing ocean waters. Orcas are highly vulnerable to contaminants and toxins in the ocean and their food webs are being altered by climate change, warming water, and ocean acidification.
EPISODE 5: TOUGH LOVE
In 1964, J pod ancestor Moby Doll was harpooned and put on display at the Vancouver Aquarium, drawing lots of attention locally and abroad. It's the beginning of an intense interest in orcas that is mirrored today in aquariums and whale watching.