In this photo, taken July 24, 2018, a dead orca calf is being pushed by her mother off the coast near Victoria. The calf died soon after being born. The mother, known as J35 or Tahlequah, is pregnant again, according to the Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research. (Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP)

Southern resident orca who carried her dead calf is pregnant again

J35 carried her dead calf for 17 days in 2018

A southern resident orca known for carrying her dead calf for nearly three weeks is pregnant again, say researchers.

In 2018, orca J35 or ‘Tahlequah’s’ ‘tour of grief’ captured global attention as a visceral representation of the endangered southern resident population, of which only 73 whales are estimated to remain.

Aerial images captured earlier this month by scientists from SR3 (Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research) identified pregnant orcas in all three southern resident pods (J, K and L), but the organization says this doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a baby boom for the dwindling orca pods.

READ ALSO: Orca’s ‘tour of grief’ over after carrying dead calf around for nearly 3 weeks

“This is not unusual,” says a press release from SR3. “And unfortunately the majority of recent pregnancies have not resulted in successful births.”

Known for carrying her dead calf for 17 days in 2018, southern resident orca J35 or Tahlequah, is pregantn again. (SR3 SeaLife Response, Rehab and Research and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 2019 and SR3 and Southall Environmental Associates in 2020; both collected under NMFS research permit 19091)

Reproduction failures are typically linked to malnutrition caused by shrinking salmon numbers, SR3 notes. Pregnancy in killer whales lasts up to 18 months.

“We hope folks on the water can give the southern residents plenty of space to forage at this important time. With such a small population … every successful birth is hugely important for recovery.”

In 2019, the Canadian government implemented a mandate for boats in the Salish Sea to maintain a 400-metre distance from orcas in an effort to lessen the effects of disturbance and underwater noise pollution. In 2020, foraging and extended sanctuary zones were implemented, including an area based fishery closure for critical habitat areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and near the Gulf Islands.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans asks boaters to slow down below seven knots or less and stop fishing within 1,000 kilometres of orcas. Those on the water can also help by turning off echo sounders and fish finders when they are not in use.

READ ALSO: Three southern resident killer whales declared dead plunging population to 73


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

OrcaVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke minor hockey set to get kids on ice by mid-September

President says re-opening dependent on SEAPARC installing ice in time

Gathering marks 10 years since nearly 500 asylum-seekers landed off Victoria shore

The 492 people fleeing violence, war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka were detained for months

VicPD responding to robbery suspect barricaded in building on Cook Street

Residents are asked to avoid the 2300-block of Cook Street

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Edward Milne students clean up Whiffen Spit

Volunteers find styrofoam, cigarette butts and a single shoe

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Filmmaker James Cameron’s Comox Valley winery up for sale

The director behind The Terminator and Titanic puts Beaufort Winery on the market after six years

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

Most Read