Good news for all your orca fans out there! A new baby orca was spotted off the San Juan Islands, the fourth one born this year to J Pod! Another resident pod, named the L Pod, also saw two little ones join its ranks since December. Researchers are crediting this mini baby boom to the increased numbers of Chinook salmon, which accounts for 90% of the orca’s diet. I prefer to think Macklemore just gets these Pacific orcas in the mood.
This story is a rare positive one for a species that faces so many dangers. While the Chinook salmon have seen population increases over the past few years, the fact that it comprises such a large portion of the orca’s diet is worrisome. It’s unclear how these fish will respond to rising sea surface temperatures, making it difficult to predict how orcas will respond in turn. However, we already know that these marine mammals don’t respond well to chemical pollution and noise pollution. There isn’t a whole lot of room for error if we want to protect these iconic mammals.
Researchers and monitoring agencies will be watching these newborns closely over the next few years, with the hope that they can reach sexual maturity and contribute to future generations. In the meantime, it’s up to the rest of us to support ecotourism, push for more restrictions on marine pollution, and do our best to create a healthy environment for these baby orcas to grow up in.
Enjoy the Podcast!