New Southern Resident Calf Identified as a Female

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Yesterday, the Center for Whale Research confirmed the sex of the new Southern Resident Killer Whale.  It's a girl!


Photo by J. Cogan, Center for Whale Research


The new baby, dubbed J50, is alive and well.  She was seen with her matrilineal family yesterday in Northern Georgia Strait British Columbia.


Center for Whale Research stated yesterday that they are "working in coordination with researchers from Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to obtain facts and photographs that will help solve the matrilineal situation, but the sex of J50 is now confirmed to be female."  


We reported on Tuesday that a calf was first seen December 30 , swimming alongside J16 Slick.  Slick, estimated to be 43 years old, is considered to be beyond typical reproductive age for these whales.  Due to her age, researchers also consider the possibility that her 16-year-old daughter, J36 Alki, could be the calf's mother.  Alki was not in the immediate area during the first encounter.


In yesterday's press release, the Center for Whale Research stated:


We still do not know which whale, J16 or J36, is the mother of little J50, but we will analyze photographs and behaviors noted today and in the future to determine the exact status in addition to the now confirmed female sex of the new baby.  Sometimes it takes a few encounters and some time to sort these things out because these whales are very caring for one another, and baby-sitting is not unusual, especially with grandmothers. The presumed maternities in our catalogue now spanning forty years of precise photo-identification have all been verified by genetic studies, so we have to be careful and not leap to conclusions about exact relationships from only two sightings of this baby.


Photo by Center for Whale Research of J50 and her matrilineal family 


Ocean Advocate News will continue to follow this developing story and report the latest news as it is discovered.  For now, we are very excited to hear that J50 is a female, hoping that she will grow up healthy and one day help repopulate this dwindling population.




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