Northwest News

While the southern residents are busy inbreeding, these whales seem to be thriving

Canadian whale-watching boat spots baby killer whale

Ocean EcoVenures, a whale-watching boat in British Columbia, shared this video by Tasli Shaw of a baby Bigg's killer whale in the Salish Sea in April 2018. The young whale is about a month old.
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Ocean EcoVenures, a whale-watching boat in British Columbia, shared this video by Tasli Shaw of a baby Bigg's killer whale in the Salish Sea in April 2018. The young whale is about a month old.

Along with typically more sun and warmer temperatures, spring tends to bring new babies. Baby goats, baby bunnies ... even baby bears.

But perhaps no other spring babies get the Pacific Northwest more excited than seeing baby orca.

While concern was reported Thursday that our southern-resident killer whales are in trouble because two males have fathered more than half the calves since 1990, there are still signs of hope in the region.

Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, B.C., shared photos on its Facebook Page of two new calves photographer Selena Rhodes captured while taking a whale watching tour off the coast of Vancouver Island on April 15. Both were swimming with a transient pod moving through the region.

The first was identified as the newest member of the T65A family, according to a story about the sighting on victoriabuzz.com, and was estimated to be less than a week old. The newborn is only the sixth known T65A calf in the area.

The second was a few months older, according to the story, and was identified at T49A5.

As if that weren't enough, Ocean EcoVentures Whale Watching in Cowichan Bay, further north along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, posted video to it's Facebook Page of another transient calf, identified as T065A6. The post estimated that baby to be about a month old.

To help the new calves, and any other orca in the region thrive, the Pacific Whale Watch Association, which includes 32 companies in Washington and British Columbia, has adopted vessel operation guidelines it says will better protect killer whales and humpbacks in the Salish Sea.

The new guidelines include:

▪ a "slow zone" of 7 knots within 1 kilometer of whales,

▪ staying 200 yards from Southern Resident killer whales, which are endangered,

▪ limiting viewing time to one hour in the vicinity of a group of whales

▪ or 30 minutes if three are 10 or more vessels within 1 kilometer.

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