Friday, January 08, 2010
Victoria Times Colonist Article and Another photo of J-47, First New Calf of 2010
Largest new year baby spotted near San Juans
By Judith Lavoie, Times ColonistJanuary 6, 2010
The biggest new year baby in the area is making waves in Juan de Fuca Strait.
A slightly wrinkled J Pod killer whale calf was spotted near San Juan Island Jan. 3 and is believed to have been born within the previous 48 hours.
"It still had its fetal folds, so it was probably a New Year's baby," said Ken Balcomb, executive director of the Center for Whale Research, based in Friday Harbor, Wash.
The birth is the sixth over the last year for the three endangered southern resident killer whale pods, bringing the total number of animals to 88.
However, the moment of truth will come in late spring when researchers do a head count to see which whales made it through the winter. About 50 per cent of killer whale calves die within the first year.
Survival is usually tied to the availability of salmon and particularly the large chinook salmon, the preferred food for killer whales. The southern residents are also affected by pollution and noise from marine traffic.
Four of the six recent births have been in J Pod, the group that tends to stay around Juan de Fuca Strait and Puget Sound for most of the year. L and K Pods wander farther afield.
"If this area is so bad for them [because of shrinking salmon runs and pollution], you have to wonder why they are doing so well,"
A nagging worry about the latest birth is that the mother, J35 -- also known as Tahlequah -- is only 12. Usually killer whales have their first calf in their mid to late teens.
There was another recent pre-teen birth among the threatened northern resident killer whales, but it is unusual, Balcomb said.
However, family help should be immediately available for the young mom. The calf's aunt gave birth recently and the grandmother is an active member of the pod.
"It's a very productive little matriline," Balcomb said.
James Dale, executive director of Pacific Whale Watch Association, also based in Friday Harbor, said bringing up babies is usually a pod effort.
"It is pretty amazing. I think we humans forget they don't come out of the womb ready to go," he said.
Language, socialization and salmon-catching techniques are among lessons that have to be taught to young orcas, Dale said.
"Then you have to think about what even the smallest animal in the pod has to do. They travel up to 150 kilometres a day," he said.
The lowest population recorded for the three pods was 71 in 1973 and 1976, following decades of shootings and captures. The recent high was 1996 when there were 97 southern residents.
Historically, the three pods had about 120 members.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
Another New Calf!!! J-47 born to J-35 Tahlequah
The Center for Whale Research http://www.whaleresearch.com/ on San Juan Island, Washington, has reported that another New Killer Whale Calf has been born to J-pod, one of the three families that make up the Southern Resident Killer Whale population that spend much of the year feeding on Salmon in Georgia Strait near Vancouver and Juan de Fuca and Haro Straits near Victoria.
Great photographs and information available from Ken Balcomb, who has been researching, photographing and identifying these Orca for over 30 years:
Center for Whale Research
P.O. Box 1577
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Jeff Hogan, Executive Director of Killer Whale Tales http://killerwhaletales.org/orca-calf-2010.html took the first photos of new Killer Whale Calf on January 3, 2010.
Jeff posted on Killer Whale Tales website:
"J35, a 12 year old, had given birth sometime recently to a brand new baby, J47! First spotted by Mark Sears, this marks the first new orca calf born in 2010 and the first time that an orca that young had given birth in this wild population. It also marks another first in that both of J35’s direct family members, her mom J17 and her sister J28 also gave birth within in the last year as well."
Jeff does a fantastic job educating school children about the connection between their choices as consumers and the health of the Marine Environment. That is a link that we would all do well to remember.
Killer Whale Tales PO Box 16453 Seattle, WA 98116
Office Phone: 206-932-ORCA (6722)
Thursday, January 07, 2010
WELCOME TO 2010!!! Thursday, January 7, 2010
We don't know about you, but our reaction to movies like "Avatar" is that "Yes, they are great achievements of Computer Science and they tell a message that we need to heed... But we are so lucky here to have the opportunity to see REAL images, hear REAL sounds and have REAL experiences that are equal to or even more amazing than anything that we might try to conjure up through computer-enhanced special effects."
At Five Star Whale Watching we have a hopeful vision that relies on seeking out and inciting the best of Human intentions and will. We need to tap into that to continue to encourage the repairing of our damaged "Environmental, Ecological and Spiritual Infra-structure" (Not only the choices we make in consuming, but how we collectively teach our children and grandchildren to view Nature) as that is every bit as much in need of help as is the "Physical Infra-structure" of highways, bridges, water systems, and other utilities.
Join us a we explore and marvel at Nature.
Education and Research, Naturally.