There is good news, fourth baby has been born to an endangered population of killer whales found off the British Columbia’s coast. The new arrival was spotted by researchers and whale watchers off Galiano Island, a Gulf Island between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
It was a moment to rejoice said Michael Harris, executive director for Pacific Whale Watch Association. “We were just basking in the glow of having three babies and then we just found this other one.”
The scientists informed that this is the fourth calf to be born among the southern residents this season, with three calves in J pod and another in L Pod.
With the birth of this calf, the total population of the rare species has swelled to 81. The southern resident population is composed of three pods–J,K,L.
The calf is said to be just days old since it still retains its heavy creases, or fetal folds which were formed when the calf was in its mother’s womb. The folds will be filled out in the coming days.
Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with Fisheries department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, said that the calf‘s mother has still not been identified
Researchers were initially skeptical and depressed about the potential for the endangered population but are now optimistic after the arrival of the new members. In December a body of a pregnant female had washed on the Vancouver Island beach and caused distress among the researchers.
Brad said, “Seeing that much reproductive potential vanish in the population was very distressing. This is encouraging, though obviously the calves have to survive.”
The survival rate of the whale calves are not very high and half the killer whales calves born in wild die during the first six months of their life.
Brad adds that all the animals seem to be healthy and active and he hopes that the odds are better. The three pods haven’t had a surviving calf for three years and they have been designated as a species at risk in Canada and USA.
The killer whales are the most studied marine mammal but researchers have much more to learn about how to help the population rebound.