SEATTLE — The Southern Resident killer whales have welcomed a new member to their family. Mother orca Tahlequah, J35, has given birth to a calf.
KOMO-TV reports two years ago Tahlequah carried her dead calf for 17 days and 1,000 miles. Her grief gripped the hearts of people all around the world.
According to Ken Balcomb, the founder for the Center for Whale Research, the calf likely arrived Friday and appears “robust.” The gender has not been announced.
Researchers discovered that the mother was pregnant in July.
This is significant for these struggling orcas who have faced boat noise, a lack of food supply, habitat loss and environmental pollutants.
Experts say this is big news as up to nearly 70-percent of pregnant orcas end with a miscarriage or a calf that dies shortly after birth.
Because of this rate and the stressful environmental factors, researchers were worried that Tahlequah might not carry her calf to term.
With a dwindling number of southern residents, every life matters.