In this photo, taken July 24, 2018, a dead orca calf is being pushed by her mother off the coast near Victoria. The calf died soon after being born. The mother, known as J35 or Tahlequah, is pregnant again, according to the Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research. (Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP)

Southern resident orca who carried her dead calf is pregnant again

J35 carried her dead calf for 17 days in 2018

A southern resident orca known for carrying her dead calf for nearly three weeks is pregnant again, say researchers.

In 2018, orca J35 or Tahlequah’s ‘tour of grief’ captured global attention as a visceral representation of the endangered southern resident population, of which only 73 whales are estimated to remain.

Aerial images captured earlier this month by scientists from SR3 (Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research) identified pregnant orcas in all three southern resident pods (J, K and L), but the organization says this doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a baby boom for the dwindling orca pods.

READ ALSO: Orca’s ‘tour of grief’ over after carrying dead calf around for nearly 3 weeks

“This is not unusual,” says a press release from SR3. “And unfortunately the majority of recent pregnancies have not resulted in successful births.”

Known for carrying her dead calf for 17 days in 2018, southern resident orca J35 or Tahlequah, is pregantn again. (SR3 SeaLife Response, Rehab and Research and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 2019 and SR3 and Southall Environmental Associates in 2020; both collected under NMFS research permit 19091)

Reproduction failures are typically linked to malnutrition caused by shrinking salmon numbers, SR3 notes. Pregnancy in killer whales lasts up to 18 months.

“We hope folks on the water can give the southern residents plenty of space to forage at this important time. With such a small population … every successful birth is hugely important for recovery.”

In 2019, the Canadian government implemented a mandate for boats in the Salish Sea to maintain a 400-metre distance from orcas in an effort to lessen the effects of disturbance and underwater noise pollution. In 2020, foraging and extended sanctuary zones were implemented, including an area based fishery closure for critical habitat areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and near the Gulf Islands.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans asks boaters to slow down below seven knots or less and stop fishing within 1,000 kilometres of orcas. Those on the water can also help by turning off echo sounders and fish finders when they are not in use.

READ ALSO: Three southern resident killer whales declared dead plunging population to 73


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

OrcaVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse native Elias joins Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines

Johnny Elias played for the Fernie Ghostriders this past season

EDITORIAL: Editor bids farewell

Editor Paige Mueller will be leaving The Free Press team at the end of July

Aislinn Dressler competes in 2020 Youth Innovation Showcase

Dressler was a finalist at the showcase, exhibiting her energy efficient fridge design

Stories decorate city pathways for new reading initiative

The Fernie Women’s Resource Centre began the initiative in support of the local early years community

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Feds fund $2M for habitat conservation in the Kootenays

Kootenay Connect program to protect habitat for species at risk in four areas in the region

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

400 gardeners receive free seeds courtesy of Kootenay Food

A variety of seeds were delivered, which included carrots, beans, kale and peas

Most Read