Sunday, 9 September 2012

New calf born to Washington/Vancouver orca pod

Commemorates 1970 capture and killing of 12 orca - Written by Sandra Pollard, Freeland, Whidbey Island
September 2012. In the same week as the 8th August, 1970 Penn Cove capture commemoration was held on Whidbey Island, Washington State, to remember the seven southern resident killer whales captured and sent to marine parks around the world, and the 5 that died during the operation, the now endangered southern resident orcas embraced the arrival of a new calf, J49, bringing the population to 86.
The mother is 11-year old J37 (Hy'Shqa), daughter of J14 (Samish), one of the first calves documented from birth by Canadian biologist, Mike Bigg, who introduced the pioneering photo-identification study of killer whales in the early 70's. J49's great-great-grandmother is J2 (Granny), believed to be 101-years old and the oldest member of the southern resident community.
Only 40% chance of survival due to toxins
Although the calf only has a 40% chance of survival due to toxins (PCB's and PBDE's) being offloaded in the mother's milk, hopes and wishes are running high for a long, healthy future for J49.
Endangered species - 58 killed or captured in 1960s - 1970s
The southern residents were placed on the endangered species list in November 2005. During the capture era of the 60's and 70's, 45 were taken for marine parks and 13 killed. A mother and four calves died in the Penn Cove capture when all three pods were driven into the cove using aircraft, speeding boats and seal bombs. Forty-two years later, the only surviving southern resident from the capture era is Lolita. She is still at the Miami Seaquarium, where she continues to perform twice a day. Efforts continue to be made for her release and retirement to a sea pen in her home waters around the San Juan Islands.

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