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New addition to B.C.’s Southern Resident orca family

New baby discovered in the coast’s embattled J-Pod
On March 1- a new calf in J Pod was discovered. Photo by Centre for Whale Research.

On the meteorological first day of spring – March 1 – a new calf in J-Pod was discovered.

The Centre for Whale Research received word that J-Pod was close to Landbank, San Juan Island in Washington State and there was possibly a new addition to the Southern Resident orca family.

The CWR photo-ID expert, Dave Ellifrit, found the whales near Kelp Reef and confirmed the new addition to J-Pod. The calf was next to J37, with J47 and J40 nearby.

CWR field staff last saw J37 during Encounter 12 on Feb. 11, 2022, and she did not have a calf at that time. The CWR estimates this baby was born within the past few days, given its “lumpy” physical nature.​

Ellifrit captured images of J37 with her new baby traveling in a tight group with other family members. CWR designates this newborn: J59. J59’s sex is unknown at this time. Its size and shape are typical of a calf in good physical condition. J59 is the first calf born into J Pod since September 2020, when J41 gave birth to J58 (female).

The new mother, J37 (born 2001), is part of the J14 matriline and has two siblings, J40 (female, born 2004) and J45 (male, born 2009). She was a young mother, only 11-years-old when she gave birth to her first calf in 2012: J49 (male).

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RELATED: J-Pod is expecting: 3 endangered southern resident whales pregnant, researchers say

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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