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J Pod welcomes new Southern Resident orca calf

The shape and size of the new calf, dubbed J59, are typical of a calf in good physical condition, according to the Center for Whale Research.

Editor's note: The above video about pregnancies in the J Pod previously aired Sept. 14, 2021.

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – The J Pod has welcomed a new calf into the Southern Resident orca family, according to the Center for Whale Research.

The shape and size of the new calf, dubbed J59, are typical of a calf in good physical condition. J59 is the first calf born into the J Pod since September 2020 when J41 gave birth to J58. It's unknown whether the calf is a male or a female.

The Center for Whale Research was first made aware that one of the whales had possibly given birth on March 1. Photo ID expert Dave Ellifrit found the new whales near Kelp Reef and was able to confirm the new addition to the J Pod. 

J59 has been spotted next to J37, with two other whales nearby. J37 was spotted earlier in February and did not have a calf at that time, so it's estimated J59 was born within the past few days.

In total, the J Pod now has 25 members, including 11 adult females, three young females, four adult males, six young males and J59, whose gender is unknown. There are estimated to be 73 whales in the entire Southern Resident orca population.

In September, researchers announced as many as three members of the J Pod were believed to be pregnant. Since then, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries and their partners have asked boaters to give the orcas extra space. 

Quieter waters, according to researchers, are important for orcas in the final months of gestation to increase their food consumption.

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