Researchers confirm new J pod calf to be female
Washington researchers say new female may 'contribute to future generations' of orcas
A calf born to a critically endangered pod of killer whales off the southwest coast of British Columbia has been confirmed to be female by researchers.
The Washington state-based Center for Whale Research confirmed in an online post that J59, the first calf born to the J pod since September 2020, is female.
According to the post, researchers were able to confirm the calf's sex via aerial observation, in which they were able to snap pictures of the calf's underside.
The center says having another female is good for the population among the J, K and L pods, as they are "largely limited by the number of reproductively aged females."
The post then says the center hopes J59 can reach maturity and "contribute to future generations of southern residents."
However, the center warns mortality among new orca calves is very high and, as of January, there were only 73 orcas remaining in the three pods.
The calf was first spotted travelling with her mother, J37, in apparently good health on March 1.
She's joined by a calf in the nearby K pod, which was the first calf to be born to the pod since 2011.
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.