The Southern resident orca calf reportedly born to the J-Pod at the end of December 2023 is presumed dead, according to the Center for Whale Research. On January 27, researchers conducting a photo survey in the San Juan Channel were unable to locate the young male.
“While we know the odds are against a calf living to its first birthday, it is what we all hope ,” said Defenders’ Northwest Representative Kathleen Callaghy. “That’s all we can do, while we continue to fight for the future of these whales.”
It is estimated that between 37 and 50% of all orca calves die in their first year. The high mortality rate among young Southern resident orcas is largely due to the lack of Chinook salmon, their primary food source, leading to poor nutrition and starvation.