Southern Resident killer whale calf confirmed female to the joy of researchers

(Supplied by David Gaspard, DFO)

A new calf is being celebrated by Department of Fisheries and Oceans researchers after being confirmed female.

The DFO confirmed the news in a social media post. The calf, known as K-45, was born to orca K-20 and is the first calf to be born to the K pod of orcas since 2011.

The K pod is one of three pods that exist in the endangered Southern Resident killer whale species.

Researchers say K-45 being female is welcome news for the pod.

“While every new Southern Resident killer whale is celebrated, females are especially important as they are essential to the ongoing and future health of this endangered iconic Pacific species,’ said the DFO in a statement. “Welcome to the pod little one!”

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The Centre for Whale Research in Washington says the calf was born this year, and the Southern Resident whales have seen a surge in calves. They add five out of six have been female.

“This is encouraging news since this population’s growth is limited by the number of reproductive females,” said the centre. “We hope that K-45 and all the other young southern resident females can thrive and eventually have calves of their own.”

The centre released a report at the end of September, showing the population of Southern Resident killer whales declined by one between July 1, 2021 and 2022.