British Columbia

Researchers confirm new J pod calf to be female

A calf born to a critically endangered pod of killer whales in off the southwest coast of British Columbia has been confirmed to be female by researchers.

Washington researchers say new female may 'contribute to future generations' of orcas

Killer whale calf J59, shown here on March 1, 2022, is the first calf born to the J pod since September 2020. (Center for Whale Research)

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.

Artwork with the words 'SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE cbc.ca/killers' written on it. The artwork is an abstract depiction of whales in water.

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. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now