Update on J50 ,J51 and L121

Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) crews observed the two three-month-old J-Pod orca calves,  J50 and J51,  in the waters around the San Juan Islands last week. Whale watchers described them as "lively and rambunctious" said PWWA Executive Director Michael Harris. "They are doing what baby orcas do."

The third new killer whale, six-week-old L-Pod calf L121 was reported by NOAA Fisheries scientists as being off the Washington coast and doing well. 

Harris said, "When you’re contending with an infant mortality rate of 50% among wild orca populations, you have to keep your optimism measured. The real celebration happens when we’re a year down the road and we still have these whales among us. We’re all holding our breath waiting for L-Pod to bring that baby back to the inland waters so we can get a good look at it. But we can report now that the two J-Pod calves are looking great – in fact, downright athletic. Both of them seem to be leaping for joy out there. The breaches we’re seeing are pretty spectacular. These little whales are really getting some air beneath them!”

J50 Swanson Channel, off Pender Island, BC.

Photo by Capt. Simon Pidcock, Ocean EcoVentures, Cowichan Bay, BC.

“Both babies looked strong and healthy,” adds Valerie Shore, Naturalist for Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria. “All in all, it was a beautiful, sunny, calm day on the water with mellow whales and mellow, admiring whale watchers maintaining a respectful distance. Just what it should be like!”

“It was lovely to see J-Pod today in the Salish Sea,” said Capt. Hobbes Buchanan of San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours. “And to see the babies out there really reminds us what’s at stake. We can’t just watch whales, we have to help them. Whether it’s removing dams or restoring forage fish habitat, we’ve got to do everything we can to increase their food supply, especially the Chinook salmon, and help these orcas survive.”

The “Class of 2015,” as the three Southern Resident calves are becoming known to PWWA crews, represents a wave of hope among a population that many feared was on an irreversible slide to extinction. There hadn’t been a successful birth in the community in almost three years. The recent baby boom puts the endangered population now at 80 individuals and growing, with its 81st member, the L-Pod whale Lolita, now in Miami Seaquarium.

J50 with J16 in Trincomali Channel.

Photo by Capt. Simon Pidcock, Ocean EcoVentures, Cowichan Bay, BC.

J27 and J51 off Victoria, B.C.

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