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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Calf, Vessel Regulation Comments, Blog Honor

I have three things of note to blog about, so I thought I would combine them all into one post. First, and most excitingly, there has been another new calf born to J-Pod! On January 3rd it was confirmed that J47 is a new calf born to young first-time mom J35 Talequah. This makes for six calves born in the last year (!!!) and no deaths (!!!), so the Southern Resident population now stands at 88.

From left to right: J17, J35, and J28

What makes this calf's birth especially interesting is the fact that all three members of the J17 matriline (J17 Princess Angeline and her daughters J28 Polaris and J35 Talequah) have now had calves in the last year. Since J35's birth in 1998, this matriline has just been made up of these three females. Now, in the span of just twelve months, their family group has doubled in size! Rather than describe in words who was born to whom and when, here is a little family tree graphic I made that shows how this matriline has changed:

You may recall that I was lucky enough to be on scene the very first time J46 was seen with mom J28 Polaris back in November. I can just imagine the excitement and mayhem of having three youngsters all in one family. I can't wait to see them next season!

Secondly, I've posted before about the new proposed vessel regulations in response to the endangered listing of the Southern Resident orcas by sharing my opinion and my comments from the public meeting. NOAA extended the original deadline of the comment period to January 15th - so if you haven't yet submitting your comments this is your reminder that now is the time to do so! You can find all the relevant info from NOAA here.

Finally, I wanted to share that my blog was honored on this list of Top 50 Marine Biology blogs. I blog for fun and to share my sightings and photos with others around the world with similar interests and passions, and it's always special to receive feedback (that's why I love your comments!) and recognition. So, let me just take this as an opportunity to say: thanks for reading!


eileeninmd said...

Congrats on the blog honour, Monika. I love reading your blog about the whales.

Vera said...

Congratulations from me too. I am so proud of you!

Heather said...

That's very exciting news about the new calf. Does anyone ever do testing to find out who the father is? Also, a big congratulations on your blog honor - it is very much deserved!

McSkagit said...

Hello Monika and fellow bloggers. I'm new to Orca Watcher, having received a link from my daughter. I live in Friday Harbor and have been involved in the marine trades here for over 30 years.

Very interested in the whales and in NOT seeing the proposed NOAA half mile regulation adopted.

I agree with most everything you've said about these intriguing animals.

Kudos on your blog award and great to see another Orca born.

Will be watching the proposed vessel regs closely.

Tim Jones aka McSkagit

Monika said...

Thanks for the congrats everyone!

Heather - This last summer was the first time they released some tentative data on paternity in this population based on genetic samples they had collected. There were some very interesting results - for instance that there does seem to be some mating within pods, when we assumed they would only mate outside their pod since they're likely more closely related to pod-mates. With all these calves being born to the same family group, especially the two so close together in November and January, I found myself wondering if they have the same dad!

Tim - Glad you found the blog and thanks for commenting! I'm up in Friday Harbor most of the time but am in Portland for a couple months this winter. When I return to the islands I'll continue to post whale photos and sightings, so I hope you'll enjoy those down the road. I really hope the 1/2 mile zone isn't adopted as well. Obviously I appreciate trying to do something to protect the whales, but this is not the solution for many reasons. Hopefully NOAA will listen to all the feedback and come up with something that makes more sense for all parties, including the whales.