Tahlequah, the orca who carried her dead calf for 17 days, is pregnant again – The Seattle Times

seattletimes.com

By Lynda V. Mapes Seattle Times environment reporter

July 27, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Updated July 27, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Tahlequah is pregnant again.

The mother orca raised worldwide concern when she carried her dead calf 17 days and more than 1,000 miles, almost exactly two years ago. Now, she has another chance at motherhood, scientists have learned.

Scientists John Durban, senior scientist of Southall Environmental Associates and Holly Fearnbach, marine mammal research director for the nonprofit SR3, recently finished recording drone images of the southern residents and discovered pregnancies amid the J, K and L pods. The recordings were done as part of a long-term study of the body condition of the endangered southern resident orcas that frequent Puget Sound. The photography is done non-invasively by a remote-activated drone flown more than 100 feet over the whales.

The pregnancies are not unusual, so the scientists don’t usually announce them. But Tahlequah’s pregnancy carries a special meaning for a region that grieved the loss of the calf.

The southern residents are struggling to survive, and most pregnancies for these embattled whales are not successful. Tahlequah’s baby was the first for the whales in three years. The southern residents have since had two more calves, in J pod and L pod. Both are still alive.

Tahlequah’s baby is still a long way away, and like all the orca moms-to-be, Tahlequah, or J-35, will need every chance to bring her baby into the world — and keep it alive. The gestation period for orcas is typically 18 months, and families stick together for life.

Everyone on the water all over the region can help, Fearnbach and Durban said. All boaters of every type should be careful to respect the whales’ space and give them the peace and quiet they need, they said.

Whales use sound to hunt, and boat disturbance and underwater vessel noise is one of the three main threats to their survival, in addition to lack of adequate, available salmon and pollution.

Just as important as the number of salmon in the sea — especially chinook, the southern resident orcas’ preferred food — is the salmon that southern residents can readily access in their traditional fishing areas.

“Just like human fisherman that don’t just go drop a hook in the ocean,” Durban said. “They have their favorite places.

“They are amazing societies that pass culture down from generation to generation. They are creatures of habit.”

However, right where orcas hunt — the west side of San Juan Island, Swiftsure Bank, and other salmon hot spots in the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca — right now are busy with boaters, commercial ships and fishermen.

Down to a population of just 72 whales, every baby counts for southern resident orcas. And their chances for successful pregnancies are not good. About two-thirds of all southern resident pregnancies are typically lost, researcher Sam Wasser of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington has found. Stress from hunger due to lack of salmon is linked to the whales’ poor reproductive success, according to his research.

Several of the juveniles in the pods also are looking thin, Fearnbach said, including J-35’s living offspring, J-47.

“There are stressed whales out there, critically stressed,” she emphasized.

While doing their field work this year, both scientists said they have seen a lot of boat traffic on the water, too much of it moving too fast. The faster the boat, typically the louder it is.

It’s likely that Tahlequah will once again lose her calf, given the history. She lost another calf before the baby she gave birth to two years ago, which survived only one half-hour. She carried the more than 300-pound, 6-foot-long calf day after day, refusing to let it go.

Will her next calf live?

“We are concerned if she has a calf, will she be able to look after herself and the calf and J47, too?” Durban said. “There has been a lot of talk I am not sure a lot has changed for the whales.”

In their observation of the orcas this summer, the families are quite spread out as they travel in small groups, over miles of distance, Fearnbach said.

That is a sign of working hard to find enough to eat, with less resting and socializing.

The scientists will take another set of photos of the whales this fall and hope to see Tahlequah even rounder.

“People need to appreciate these are special whales in a special place at a vulnerable time,” Durban said. “These whales deserve a chance.”

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2515 or lmapes@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @LyndaVMapes. Lynda specializes in coverage of the environment, natural history, and Native American tribes.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/tahlequah-the-orca-who-carried-her-dead-calf-for-17-days-is-pregnant-again/?amp=1&__twitter_impression=true

The Most Epic Whale Encounters

Half Of The World’s Orcas Will Die Due To Chemical Banned Decades Ago – Sea Voice News

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About Alex Larson View all posts by Alex Larson →

Our actions today will impact those lives of lives of tomorrow. That phrase has never rang so true as new research has just revealed that half of the world’s orca populations will die to toxic and persistent pollution of the oceans.

The chemical that will cause the death of the killer whales are PCBs which have been banned for decades. Although the ban has been in place, PCBs are still heavily leaking into the ocean. Because PCBs become more concentrated higher upon the food chain, the killer whale, which is the top predators, are the most contaminated animals on the planet. Making it worse, their fat-rich milk passes on very high doses to their newborn calves.

The new research, published in the journal Science, examined PCB contamination in 351 killer whales, the largest analysis yet. The scientists then took existing data on how PCBs affect calf survival and immune systems in whales and used this to model how populations will fare in the future. “Populations of Japan, Brazil, Northeast Pacific, Strait of Gibraltar, and the United Kingdom are all tending toward complete collapse,” they concluded.

PCB concentrations found in killer whales can be 100 times safe levels and severely damage reproductive organs, cause cancer and damage the immune system. The new research analysed the prospects for killer whale populations over the next century and found those offshore from industrialised nations could vanish as soon as 30-50 years.

“It is like a killer whale apocalypse,” said Paul Jepson at the Zoological Society of London, part of the international research team behind the new study. “Even in a pristine condition they are very slow to reproduce.” Healthy killer whales take 20 years to reach peak sexual maturity and 18 months to gestate a calf.

PCBs were used around the world since the 1930s in electrical components, plastics and paints but their toxicity has been known for 50 years. They were banned by nations in the 1970s and 1980s but 80% of the 1m tons produced have yet to be destroyed and are still leaking into the seas from landfills and other sources.

The researchers said PCBs are just one pollutant found in killer whales, with “a long list of additional known and as yet unmeasured contaminants present”. Further problems for killer whales include the loss of key prey species such as tuna and sharks to overfishing and also growing underwater noise pollution.

“This new study is a global red alert on the state of our oceans,” said Jennifer Lonsdale, chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link’s whales group. “If the UK government wants its [proposed] Environment Act to be world-leading, it must set ambitious targets on PCB disposal and protect against further chemical pollution of our waters.”

http://seavoicenews.com/2018/09/28/half-of-the-worlds-orcas-will-die-due-to-chemical-banned-decades-ago/

Save Declining Southern Resident Orcas

The number of Southern Resident Orca whales has hit its lowest point in 30 years thanks to the disappearance of the species’ food source and plans to build an oil pipeline in the ocean. We cannot risk the possibility of these whales dying out completely within just a few short years. Sign this petition to demand stronger protection and conservation efforts to save this species.

Source: Save Declining Southern Resident Orcas

Endangered Orcas In The Pacific Northwest Just Suffered Another Heartbreaking Loss | Care2 Causes

By: Alicia Graef
September 29, 2017
Highly endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest continue to face a host of threats to their survival, and now they’ve suffered another heartbreaking loss with the death of a young male.

These orcas, otherwise known as the southern resident killer whales (SRKW), live in three distinct pods (J,K and L), who travel through Puget Sound, the Straight of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the summer months before migrating to open ocean in the winter.

Tragically, even with live captures being banned, federal protection in the U.S. and Canada and millions spent on research and recovery efforts, they’ve yet to make a comeback.
Love This? Never Miss Another Story.

This week, the Center for Whale Research, which keeps an official census of these orcas, broke devastating news with an announcement that a two-year-old male, Sonic (J52), had passed away. He is believed to have died from malnutrition.

According to CWR, he was last seen on September 15, looking lethargic, while photos taken at the time showed severe “peanut-head” syndrome (when their head becomes concave around the blowhole), which is associated with impending death. He was with his mother and another adult male, who were tending to him miles away from the rest of the pod, and was believed to be “hours, if not minutes” away from death at the time. His mother and the male were spotted days later, but he was gone.

Sonic was part of the so-called baby boom for these orcas that began in 2014, but as CWR noted, with his passing three of the six whales born in the J pod during that boom have died, along with two mothers and a great-grandmother.  

Their population has dropped from 83 as of last year, to just 76 individuals today (not counting Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium), and time to save them is quickly running out.

While they continue to face a number of compounding threats ranging from boat traffic and noise to toxic pollutants, many believe the biggest problem now is a lack of food. Their main food source, Chinook salmon, is also endangered due to habitat loss, overfishing, and having their migration and spawning grounds blocked by hydroelectric dams.

“If something isn’t done to enhance SRKW prey availability almost immediately (it takes a few years for a Chinook salmon to mature and reproduce, and it takes about twelve years for a female SRKW to mature and reproduce), extinction of this charismatic resident population of killer whales is inevitable in the calculable future,” wrote Kenneth Balcolm, CWR’s founder.

Advocates for these orcas have pushed to expand critical habitat, with widespread public support, and are continuing to call for immediate action to help them survive, particularly calling for the removal of four lower Snake River dams in Washington and on the Klamath River in Oregon and Northern California, which is expected to have a huge impact on salmon recovery. Hopefully Sonic’s death will increase public pressure and help garner the political will to accomplish more protective measures.

For more on how to help, check out the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative, Center for Whale Research, Orca Network and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.   
http://www.care2.com/causes/endangered-orcas-in-the-pacific-northwest-just-suffered-another-heartbreaking-loss.html

Photo credit: Thinkstock
Copyright © 2017 Care2.com, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved
Care2 Team Blog

Protect Endangered Orcas from Big Oil

The last remaining orcas in a pristine ocean habitat could be killed off soon by a pipeline expansion. The pipeline would make the orca habitat unlivable and increase the risks of an oil spill. Sign this petition to ask Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to oppose this project and save these majestic creatures.

Source: Protect Endangered Orcas from Big Oil

Video

Watch this scared seal jump onto a boat to escape hungry killer whales | WPMT FOX43

WARNING: Video contains profanity

VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. — A seal narrowly escaped being eaten by some hungry killer whales off of Vancouver Island on Monday.

The mammal jumped onto the back of a tour boat to escape the swarming pod of orcas.

Nick Templeman, who runs Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, captured the moments after the seal took refuge on the boat.

“Once he got a look at the boat, he made a straight beeline for us,” Templeman said.

As if a seal jumping on your tour boat wasn’t exciting enough, things got even more interesting for this sightseeing group. About a dozen orcas started circling the boat trying to find their prey.

“We had four or five orcas all at once sitting at the back of the boat straight up and down sort of looking at the seal,” said Templeman. “They would dive and they would all disappear — about 12 of them — and you can see shape after shape trying to come up from under the boat.”

The tour group was boating off the coast of Vancouver Island, which is off Canada’s Pacific Coast. The area is known for it’s vast whale watching adventures.

“The seal did get scared during the encounter,” said Templeman. “He would get in the water, swim back up and get back on the boat.”

Templeman, who has been whale watching for 20 years, said he hasn’t seen an orca hunt this extreme.

“This was not one family group but three or four family groups.”

After about 30 minutes, the whales gave up and moved on.

“The seal took a few minutes, went into the water, hesitated around the engines and then left,” said Templeman.

Kirk Fraser, who posted the video on YouTube, wrote about the video: “We were out with the family looking for whales and a pod of 12 transient killer whales where chasing the seal. It ripped towards the boat in a desperate escape and scrambled on the deck. It fell off three times in panic and finally stayed on until the whales gave up after about 30-45 minutes. Most intense epic experience ever. Love you Nature. What a lucky seal”

Topics: seal, tour boat, viral video

 

Free All Captive Whales and Dolphins in Europe

Intelligent marine mammals, such as bottlenose dolphins and orca whales, are forced to perform for audiences all around the world. The European Union is one of the worst offenders and holds little respect for these amazing animals. Urge the EU to finally free its captive cetaceans.

Source: Free All Captive Whales and Dolphins in Europe

petition: Save Russian Orcas From Being Captured and Put on Display, Russian Federation

tmp_6539-803167-1457812046-wide-1404963905http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/803/167/200/

Act Now to End Orca Captivity in the U.S.

orca

https://takeaction.takepart.com/actions/act-now-to-end-orca-captivity-in-the-u-s?cmpid=tpnews-eml-2016-03-12-Literacy

End Capture of Killer Whales for Entertainment

End Capture of Killer Whales for Entertainment.

7/2/15 – New Petition To Free ‘Lolita’ – Please Sign and Crosspost.

Serbian Animals Voice (SAV)

lolita

lolita pool

7/2/15 – there is a new petition which has started to free Lolita

– here is the link; please make sure you sign and pass on to everyone that you are able

– Thanks SAV.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/405/655/036/free-lolita/

pet2

and pass on to all that you know !!

lolita pool

 In this dump since she was captured in 1970 – FREE HER NOW

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Charges against Seaworld and dolphin and whale rights filed This week (yesterday)

Captive Orcas Can Learn How to Speak Dolphin, Researchers Say

Killer whales learn to ‘talk’ like bottlenose dolphins | MNN – Mother Nature Network

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via Killer whales learn to ‘talk’ like bottlenose dolphins | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

Orcas who spent time around bottlenose dolphins learned to imitate their famous clicks and whistles, a new study finds, further demonstrating the depth of killer whales’ intelligence and social complexity.

Thu, Oct 09, 2014

A wild killer whale leaps into the air off the U.S. West Coast. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Killer whales are among the few animals on Earth capable of vocal learning, or the ability to pick up new vocalizations by imitating someone else’s. It’s the basis for language, and it lets pods of killer whales — aka orcas — develop “dialects” that are likely passed down from generation to generation.
According to a new study, though, killer whales don’t necessarily stop at imitating each other. They’re also capable of learning a different species’ language, the study’s authors found…

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Orca Welfare and Safety Act

Stop SeaWorld

Sign this petition to help pass a law that makes it illegal to hold orcas in captivity from the State of California. The Act makes it illegal to “hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes.” 

SeaWorld’s worst nightmare: Lawmaker proposes ban on orcas in captivity

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Rare White Orca Sighted Off Russian Coast

The ocean update

orca-white-RussiaSeptember 26th, 2014. Researchers tracking whales off the coast of Russia sighted, and were able to film, one of the rarest of all cetaceans : a juvenile white orca, an animal that has only been observed a handful of times in the wild.

The scientists were engaged in research for the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) when they spotted the whale, according to the Daily Mail. The team was operating off the southeastern coast of Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula and the Northern Kuril Islands, surveying the area as part of a project focused on humpback whales, when the sighting occurred. Orcas have previously been sighted in the region, yet few have been so rare.

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By Nancy Posted in Uncategorized Tagged ,

Pod pushed orca to surface (New Zealand)

The ocean update

UNDERWATER RESCUE: The orca ‘Dian’ found entangled in a cray pot line on Monday had help from the rest of the pod which pushed it to the surface to breathe. UNDERWATER RESCUE: The orca ‘Dian’ found entangled in a cray pot line on Monday had help from the rest of the pod which pushed it to the surface to breathe.

September 11th, 2014 (Chris Thompson). A 6 metre orca called Dian had to be rescued about a kilometre east of Kawau Island, Hauraki Gulf, after it got stuck in a cray pot line.

It would not have survived but for the remarkable actions of five orcas, including her own calf, pushing the exhausted and entangled orca to the surface so it could breathe, rescuers say.

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Could This Penalty Spell the End of Killer Whales Swimming With Trainers?