State of the Whales

Many of us have an active interest in the health of our marine environment and its inhabitants. This article from the regional news blog, Crosscut, was informative about the state of the whale population, specifically the Southern Resident killer whales, it begins…

This time last year, everyone was celebrating what seemed like a step toward recovery for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW), which make their home around the San Juan Islands. After a low in 2014 of just 78 individuals, the birth of eight new calves in 12 months looked like great news for this dwindling population. The last of the newborns, named J54, was first seen on December 1, 2015, and brought the population up to 85.

Not since 1977 (one year after the Orca Survey study began) had so many calves been born in a 12-month period. It was no surprise that 2015 was referred to as a “baby boom” and many were hopeful that this signaled a population on the rise.

Unfortunately, what was cause for celebration at the end of 2015 turned to cause for alarm by the fall of 2016. Not long after the birth of J54, his mother, an orca named J28 or “Polaris,” began showing signs of poor body condition. By July, she was clearly emaciated and by mid-October she was gone. Not long after J28 was last seen, her infant calf was seen in extremely poor health, barely breathing, being carried on the head of his older sister. Without milk to sustain him, J54 did not have a chance at survival.

To read more: Link to Article

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