Marine researchers are celebrating the birth of a new calf in J Pod, the first addition to the endangered Southern Resident orca family in over a year.
Washington state-based Centre for Whale Research (CWR) says the pod was captured on camera Tuesday by photo-ID expert Dave Ellifrit, near San Juan Island, about 12 miles east of Victoria.
According to the centre, the newborn, now named J59, was next to J37, with J47 and J40 nearby.
“CWR field staff last saw J37 during Encounter #12 on February 11th, 2022, and she did not have a calf at that time. We estimate this baby was born within the past few days, given its ‘lumpy’ physical nature,” it said.
Currently, the sex of J59 is unknown, but experts say its size and shape are “typical of a calf in good physical condition.”
It’s the first newborn in J Pod since September 2020—a group that totalled 24 whales, according to December 31st, 2021 CWR census data.
J Pod is most likely to appear year-round in the waters of the Georgia Strait, San Juan Islands, Southern Gulf Islands, or lower Puget Sound near Seattle.