Good news²

Good news² r1 ... BECOME A MEMBER The Narwhal's masthead logo Before we dive into one good news story, I’d like to tell you about another: our mission to add 500 new members in May was a grand success!

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And now, onto that other bit of good news…
A photo of J59, a new southern resident killer whale calf.
Meet J59.

Likely born a few months ago, J59 is proving to be a beacon of hope for B.C.’s critically endangered southern resident killer whales.

And thanks to her playful rolls, researchers have been able to determine that J59 is a girl — which means, eventually, she could help play an, ahem, role in bringing her species back from the brink.

This is the first calf born into J pod since September 2020. As of December, researchers counted just 73 southern residents across three pods.

“Deborah Giles, the science and research director of the non-profit Wild Orca, told me that we should be seeing six or seven new southern resident calves every year and that’s just not happening,” The Narwhal’s B.C. biodiversity reporter Ainslie Cruickshank told me.

“So to see J59 born earlier this year, the first J pod calf in two years, is really exciting. And for a lot of people, the fact that she was a girl, offered this added hope that she will one day be able to have calves of her own.”

But, unfortunately, there are plenty of obstacles that could get in the way of that. As Ainslie reports, nearly 70 per cent of the southern residents that do become pregnant either miscarry or lose their calves shortly after birth.

Underwater noise, from things like tanker traffic, can wreak havoc on the orcas’ ability to communicate and find food. Then there’s the matter of the food itself: Chinook salmon, the go-to for southern residents, is in decline due to a host of pressures including wildfires, logging and mining.

“I think we need to spend some more time understanding that what we do in the forest up in the interior has an impact on the southern resident killer whales’ ability to survive,” Sm’hayetsk (Teresa Ryan), a long-time member of the Pacific Salmon Commission’s Joint Chinook Technical Committee, told Ainslie.

Go here to read all about J59 and what needs to be done to turn things around for southern residents.

Take care and do something to cheer yourself up,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

P.S. Thursday is election day in Ontario and our bureau is following along! Be sure to check our website for an analysis of what the results mean for the environment.
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What we’re reading

CBC news: Crown to charge 15 Coastal GasLink pipeline protesters with criminal contempt ProPublica: How Not to Count Salmon GIF of a whale with text: When you’re popping up with some cheerful news. Tell your friends that r63

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