News

UBC marine mammal researcher hopeful after new killer whale calf sighted

UBC marine mammal researcher hopeful after new killer whale calf sighted
Canada
The University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit director Andrew Trites is over the moon at reports that a new calf has been sighted swimming with the Southern Resident killer whales.

Trites said over the next few years, he wants to hear lots of similar stories — instead of the doom and gloom headlines we’ve heard recently.

“We haven’t seen a new calf in three years. We hear increasingly of animals that are in poor condition, and likely going to die, we’ve been losing animals,” said Trites.

“The only way this population is going to pull out of this tailspin it’s been in is to start having new babies. To hear that there’s a new calf is the best piece of news I could imagine hearing at this point.”

The newborn calf has a long, tough year ahead of it — Trites said about half of killer whale calves born never make it to their first birthday.

“While I feel excited by the news I’m also very aware that the population is not out of the woods yet,” said Trites.

“We’re only in January — it can be stormy out there, rough. It’s not the easiest time for a mother to have a new baby.”

Last year, the Southern Residents made world news when the whale known as J-35 carried the carcass of her dead calf for more than two weeks.

And according to Trites, the population won’t start growing until the whales start giving birth to female calves.

“They need little girls. Without that there’s really no future,” said Trites.

“The population has had a problem of giving birth primarily to males, and in such a small population having more males is not helpful whatsoever.”

Along with a shortage of female births, the Southern Residents must deal with an apparent food shortage that Trites said has left them thinner and more unhealthy than their Northern Resident neighbours.
Read more on globalnews.ca
News Topics :
Similar Articles :
Science
The Southern Resident killer whale J1, shown here in background, is one of two males in the population that has fathered more than half of the sampled calves since 1990....
Technology
Newborn orca calf J53 is seen with it s mother J17 off San Juan Island, Wash., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. Heather MacIntyre/The Pacific Whale Watch Association via AP Published...
Science
The menopause is a puzzle for biologists. Why would the female of a species cease to reproduce half way through her life, when natural selection favours characteristics that help an...
Science
She was the focal point of a recent BBC documentary that followed biologists study of her clan of orcas, an effort to unravel an evolutionary mystery. Studying female orcas,...
Top Stories
Scientists were fairly certain that a matron killer whale from an endangered pod off British Columbias coast had given birth to the newest calf then new evidence made them...