Posted by: The ocean update | December 17, 2015

Orca baby boom continues for B.C.’s southern resident killer whales (Canada)

A new baby killer whale has been born in the J Pod group of resident whales believed to be headed for the Strait of Georgia, bringing the number of new births since last December to eight. The U.S.-based Center for Whale Research said the calf — designated J54 — is the offspring of mother J28 and a sibling to a female calf born in 2009. J28 and J54 are pictured here. Photograph by : Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research

A new baby killer whale has been born in the J Pod group of resident whales believed to be headed for the Strait of Georgia, bringing the number of new births since last December to eight. Photograph by : Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research

December 17th, 2015 (Tiffany Crawford). The orca baby boom continues in the Pacific Northwest.

A new baby killer whale has been born in the J Pod group of resident whales believed to be headed for the Strait of Georgia, bringing the number of new births since last December to eight.

The U.S.-based Center for Whale Research said the calf — designated J54 — is the offspring of mother J28 and a sibling to a female calf born in 2009.

The total population of southern resident whales as of now is at 84 known whales, according to the centre.

Researchers say there hasn’t been this many baby resident whales born since 1977, when there were nine in one year.

They estimate that up to nine babies could be produced each year, but there is a high rate of neonatal and perinatal mortality. As such, only about three babies on average are born per year.

The high mortality rate has also been attributed to years following poor salmon runs.

The new baby, J54, was first seen on Dec. 1 by several whale-watchers near San Juan Island, and photographed with J28.

J54 is estimated to be two and a half to three weeks old as of Wednesday, but researchers still don’t know the calf’s gender.

Researchers believe the whales are headed to the Strait of Georgia where J pod spent an extended amount of time last December.

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