In this photo taken Tuesday, July 24, 2018, a baby orca whale is being pushed by her mother after being born off the Canada coast near Victoria. The new orca died soon after being born. (Michael Weiss/Center for Whale Research via AP)

Endangered killer whale dies off B.C. coast soon after birth

It was the first calf born in three years to the endangered orcas in Pacific Northwest

  • Jul. 25, 2018 2:23 p.m.

The first calf born in three years to the endangered orcas that spend time in Pacific Northwest waters died Tuesday, the latest troubling sign for a population already at its lowest in more than three decades.

A dead whale was seen being pushed to the surface by her mother just a half hour after it was spotted alive in the waters off the coast of Victoria, said Ken Balcomb, senior scientist with the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, which closely tracks each individual whale.

The mother was seen propping the newborn on her forehead and trying to keep it near the surface of the water, he said. “The baby was so newborn it didn’t have blubber. It kept sinking, and the mother would raise it to the surface.”

The distinctive black-and-white whales have struggled since they were listed as an endangered species in the U.S. and Canada over a decade ago. They’re not getting enough of the large, fatty Chinook salmon that make up their main diet. They also face threats from toxic pollution and noise and disturbances from boats.

A statewide task force formed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has been meeting since spring to come up with ways to help the population. Efforts include slowing down state ferries to reduce the effect of noise, increasing hatchery production of salmon, training more commercial whale-watching boats to help respond to oil spills, and prioritizing areas where important habitat can be restored to help fish and orcas.

Balcomb and others say more aggressive measures are needed. They have called for the removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River to restore salmon runs.

READ MORE: Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

There are just 75 of the orcas, down from 98 in 1995.

The number is a concern, but the bigger issue is the reproductive status of the small population, Balcomb said. There are 28 whales of reproductive age, and only 14 have produced calves in the last decade.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Widow’s petition demands mandatory training for truckers

Truck driver Stephen Babij was killed in a head on semi truck collision near Revelstoke in 2017

Double Subway robbery along Highway 1

RCMP say the two incidents are most likely connected

Inquiry begins into West Kootenay RCMP shooting death

Const. Jason Tait faces charges in the 2015 shooting death of Waylon Jesse Edey in Castlegar

Town of Golden seeks to stretch funding with beautification grant

In an effort to stretch Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) funding… Continue reading

Golden Rockets make playoffs for first time in four years

The Golden Rockets have scored themselves a spot in the Kootenay Ice… Continue reading

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Kootenay boy, 10, brave in the face of cancer

Fernie Ghostriders vs. Kimberley Dynamiters game to raise funds for young fan fighting cancer

B.C.-Alberta healthcare access issues continue across Kootenays

MLA investigates rumours patient transportation services stop at the border

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

Most Read