Friday, November 13, 2009
Orcas Bounce Back This Year
This little fella, probably only a couple of days or even hours old, was photographed (by Mark Malleson, a contract marine mammal observer for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Center for Whale Research) off Victoria on Wednesday. He is J46, next to what is thought to be its mother, 16 year-old J28, also known as Polaris.
J46 is the fifth whale born to the local pods this year, and brings the resident population to 87. There were seven deaths in the pods last year, prompting fears for the mammels' chances of survival. Historicially, the number of local resident orcas has been about 120. The mortality rate for orca calves is about 50%, but a larger than normal return of their favourite food, chinook salmon, means that the fear of starvation that was threatening the local pods last year should not be an issue at least for this winter.