Good orca news – June 14th 2008

Just a few hours after we sent our last report about the unsettling situation in Robson Bight, we received a very uplifting email from our colleagues at CetaceaLab (www.whaleresearch.ca) on Gill Island – they had sighted the A30s the day before, and everyone was there!  This news comes as a great relief, as we had been worried by the absence of sightings of the A30s, at a time of year when they are often seen in northern BC waters.    

More encouraging news, also from CeatceaLab, is that the A8 matriline has a new member.  A42 (Holly)’s sister Havannah (A28) has a tiny new baby swimming beside her!  Orca babies always spend the earliest days of their lives swimming beside their mothers, so it’s almost certain this is Havannah’s baby.  The welcome birth is very unusual, as most orca mums have their first baby by the time they are around 15 years of age, and Havannah is 34, almost old enough to be a grandmother. 

The new baby was first observed on May 10th. Bright orange in colour, she or he had almost certainly been born recently.  A week later, the family was spotted again, and this time photographs were taken, confirming the event.

We have waited for Havannah to have a baby for so many years that we had come to believe she would never give birth, and that her main role would remain as an attentive aunt, helping to nurture Holly’s offspring, and contribute to the general well being of her family and community.  We now wonder if A28 has had other offspring who have not survived. Therefore, we will keep our fingers crossed for Havannah and the baby as we await their arrival this summer.

Meanwhile, our fingers also remain crossed that the tanker laden with diesel fuel, which lurks as an unseen threat below Robson Bight, will remain unseen this summer, and that sufficient salmon to satisfy the orcas’ needs return to these uneasy waters.

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