Out of Mama Orca's Tragedy, New Joy

J35, who carried her dead calf for 17 days in 2018, has a new calf
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2020 1:23 AM CDT
Happy News for Orca That Carried Dead Calf 17 Days
In this Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, photo released by the Center for Whale Research, an orca, known as J35, foreground, swims with other orcas near San Juan Island in Washington.   (Center for Whale Research via AP)

Tahlequah—or J35, as she is also known—the orca who heartbreakingly carried her dead calf for 17 days in 2018, is a mom once again. She was discovered to be pregnant in July, and gave birth Friday. Researchers say the new calf appears to be "healthy and precocious" and "robust," the CBC and KOMO News report. The baby, known as J57, was spotted Saturday swimming with J35 in the US waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The two whales are members of J pod, one of three endangered groups of orcas that live off the coast of Washington state and British Columbia. There are believed to be 73 in total among the three pods, known collectively as the Southern Resident killer whales. Scientists are excited about the new calf, because as many as 70% of orca pregnancies end in miscarriage or a calf dying soon after birth. (More uplifting news stories.)

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