For the second time in a month, an orca baby has been born in a pod of whales that suffered a tragic loss in 2018.
Researchers with the Washington-based Centre for Whale Research announced on Friday that the group of whales designated J-pod has another new calf.
The latest calf, which has yet to be designated while teams determine its health and condition, was born to mother J-41.
Naturalists aboard Orca Spirit Adventures, a Victoria-based whale watching tour agency, say they were fortunate enough to witness the birth.
“It was an emotional time as we processed what was happening in front of us,” said Lea Vanderwiel, one of the people on board the vessel that was present, in a statement.
“It took a few minutes to realize what was actually happening, but then it was pure excitement realizing that it was a birth and the baby was very alive and boisterous.”
The Centre for Whale Research says that 40 per cent of newborn calves do not survive their neonatal first few weeks.
If the newest calf survives it would bring the population of Southern Resident Killer Whales to a total of 74. The birth is the second calf in a month for the pod.
The first calf in September, designated J-35, was born to a mother who made international headlines in 2018 with a heart-wrenching display of carrying her dead calf for 17 days in an extended period of mourning.
Centre for Whale Research field staff have been monitoring J-pod and encountered the whales near Sheringham Point, B.C. on Friday, but have not yet announced any updates on the newest calf’s health.