Center for Whale Research Press Release: After not being seen in the inland waters near the San Juan Islands for more than two months, J and K pods showed up the morning July 5, 2019 with a new member of J pod. People gathered at Lime Kiln Point State Park hoping to catch a glimpse of the new baby whale that was first reported on the British Columbia coast near Tofino on May 30, 2019 by a local whale watch company.
The new baby whale is designated J56, probably born 24 May 2019, female, and its mother is J31, a 24-year-old whose most recent birthing in January 2016 was unsuccessful. She has had no other known pregnancies in the past ten years. Photo credit: Center for Whale Research, WhaleResearch.com
Brian Gisborne, a research contractor with Environment Canada, obtained photographs the next day showing that the baby still had fetal fold creases on its side, indicating that it was probably born less than a week earlier. The new baby whale was photographed again by the Tofino based whale watchers on June 9.
The Center for Whale Research had numerous reports from colleagues with Environment Canada and others of the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) pods feeding along the coast of British Columbia in May and June this year during a time when they historically frequented interior waters of the Salish Sea to feed on the early summer runs of Chinook salmon bound for the Fraser River According to CWR, the salmon runs to the Fraser River have been very poor in recent years, so the whales must feed in coastal waters to survive.
Near Pile Point, San Juan Island, the new mother J31 swam around in circles with her new calf and three other young females - it looked for very much like they were showing off this new addition to the population.
For a very brief moment, the baby popped to the surface with its underside exposed, revealing it was a female. This is a very welcome addition to this endangered population of whales that has experienced so much bad news recently with whales appearing skinny and passing away.
CWR will be able to say which whales are missing after they encounter the entire SRKW population later this summer – they hope.
The new baby whale is designated J56, probably born 24 May 2019, female, and its mother is J31, a 24-year-old whose most recent birthing in January 2016 was unsuccessful. She has had no other known pregnancies in the past ten years.
Photo credit: Center for Whale Research, WhaleResearch.com Link to high resolution photos