With New Baby in Tow, J Pod Moves South

Kitsap Sun 11.13.09J28-J46
By Christopher Dunagan
Posted November 12, 2009 at 7:28 p.m. , updated November 12, 2009 at 7:28 p.m.

A newborn killer whale calf, designated J-46, was photographed Wednesday afternoon while swimming with its mother, J-28, south of Whidbey Island and west of Hansville. The orange color is partly the result of a sunset taking place and partly the natural orange coloration of a newborn orca. (Photo courtesy of Fred Felleman)
A new killer whale calf has been born in J Pod, one of the three pods that frequent the Salish Sea, which includes Puget Sound.

The new baby has been given the designation J-46, the next available number in sequence, said Susan Berta of Orca Network. The calf has been seen swimming close to J-28, a 16-year-old orca named Polaris who is presumed to be the mom.
© Fred Felleman
This birth brings the population of J Pod to 27 and the total for all three pods to 87. The Southern Resident population was declared an “endangered” species in 2005, after the population had dropped to a recent low of 79 animals in 2001.

J Pod has been out of the area for days but appeared with K Pod off San Juan Island on Wednesday afternoon and later in Canadian waters near Victoria, Berta said. Late Thursday morning, the two pods were spotted off Whidbey Island. And by Thursday afternoon, they had moved to Possession Sound, south of Whidbey and west of Hansville, where biologist Fred Felleman observed them for three hours from his boat.

“It was a spectacular encounter,” Felleman said. “They were spread out on both sides of the (Possession) Bank, running north and south.”

He described one young male orca hunting salmon by swimming in a circular manner; he noted several others literally “surfing” on the wake of a container ship; and he spotted the new baby just as the sun was dropping below the horizon.

“I got a cute shot of the calf riding behind mom’s dorsal fin,” Felleman said, noting that the calf’s grandmother, J-17 or Princess Angeline, stayed between the calf and the boat the whole time. “It was a magical day.”

For a discussion about water-related issues, check out the blog Watching Our Water Ways at kitsapsun.com.

Also see:  http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2009/11/14/photos-a-new-baby-picture-along-with-surfing-orcas/

~ by fredfelleman on November 13, 2009.

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