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We're at COP28 to Save the Whale, Save the World.

We’re at COP28 to save the whale, save the world

Ed Goodall Ed is WDC's head of intergovernmental engagement. He meets with world leaders to...
Gray whales from drone.

We’re taking steps to uncover the mysteries of whales

Vicki James Vicki is WDC's protected areas coordinator, she helps to create safe ocean spaces...
We must protect our non-human allies. Image: Tom Brakefield, aurore murguet, johan63

We’re urging governments to protect all of our climate heroes – CITES

Katie Hunter Katie supports WDC's engagement in intergovernmental conversations and is working to end captivity...
The Natütama Foundation are dedicated to protecting endangered river dolphins. Image: Natutama

Guardians of the Amazon: protecting the endangered river dolphins

Ali Wood Ali is WDC's education projects coordinator. She is the editor of Splash! and KIDZONE,...

The Baby Boom Continues

Last week, in the midst of the largest gathering of marine mammal scientists in the world (more on that later!), we learned that the Center for Whale Research had confirmed the seventh new calf this year in the critically endangered Southern Resident orca community.  New baby J54 was spotted with 22-year-old mother Polaris (J28) – the totals for 2015 are now four new babies for J pod and three for L pod.  Starting with Scarlet (J50), born in December 2014 and the first calf to survive since 2012, this small community has seen a baby boom not observed since 1977, when nine new calves were born (of those nine, five are still alive today). 

Scarlet will reach the critical one-year mark at the end of the month; the first year of life is hard for new orca calves, with a mortality rate as high as 50%.  We will keep our fingers crossed for all the new calves, though researchers are worried about what will happen in the next few years.  Birth and death rates in the Southern Resident population are closely correlated to the coastwide abundance of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon, and while these new calves are likely a result of increased salmon runs (for some areas) in the past couple of years, the ongoing drought in the western US and the threatening massive El Niño this year puts the future of many salmon runs in jeopardy.

More babies are certainly needed in the Southern Resident community to help this fragile population recover, but they also mean more mouths to feed on a dwindling food supply, among other threats.  WDC is working to restore rivers and salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest to help the Southern Resident orcas survive and thrive.  Help us in our work by reading more here and by adopting an orca today!

And in the meantime, enjoy this video from the Center for Whale Research of new baby J54!