Southern resident killer whale calves spotted alive and well

Two southern resident killer whale calves were spotted swimming with their pods in apparent good health over the weekend.

All three local pods — J, K, and L — were spotted Aug. 11 near Carmanah Point Light Station on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island by Mark Malleson, senior zodiac skipper at Prince of Whales Whale Watching.

Malleson saw and photographed J31 swimming with her calf J56 and L77 with her offspring L124.

“It looked like the entire clan was out there,” said Malleson, who watched the whales head slightly west toward the mouth of the Nitnat River, about a mile from shore.

“They were actively feeding, which is good to see,” he said.

J31 with calf J56 near Carmanah Point Light Station off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island on Aug. 11. (Center for Whale Research, Mark Malleson)

According to researchers, J56 is a female calf born in May. L124 was born in January and the calf’s gender is unknown.

A sighting of the calves in good health is welcome news after the U.S.-based Center for Whale Research declared three southern resident orcas missing and presumed dead as of July 1.

There are currently 73 whales in the southern resident population. They are listed as a species at risk in Canada.

For more information on the southern resident killer whales listen to the CBC British Columbia original podcast Killers: J pod on the Brink hosted by Gloria Macarenko. It’s free at CBC Podcasts.