[photo courtesy, NOAA]
PCBs have been found in killer whale blubber; unfortunately the toxins are passed on to newborns. No calves born since 2015 have survived to maturity. Miscarriages have also occurred. [photo courtesy, Center for Whale Research]
The southern resident group is divided into three pods, J, K, and L. L contains 35 members. Orca society is matrilineal with grandmothers living with their daughters' young. Older orca females also experience menopause, so breeding females are important to maintaining pod continuity. Orcas will play when they have time to spare from hunting which is taking an increasing amount of their time now. L pod seemed happy to observers when the baby was found engaging in spy hops, fin slapping and cartwheels. Later in the day, all three pods gathered in the same place. J35, the mother who made news carrying her dead baby on her head for days seemed to be recovering from her grief, but more bad news awaits: her mother, J17 is hungry and visibly weakening. It must be distressing for such a tightly knit group of sentient being to experience so much unrelenting mortality.