Orca that carried dead calf for 17 days gives birth to 'feisty' baby boy

It’s a boy.

The new calf born this month in the endangered J-Pod group of resident killer whales is active and healthy — so much so that he’s revealed his gender.

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Researchers were able to confirm the newborn orca’s gender on Tuesday as it was spyhopping and rolling alongside its mother near Point Roberts, Washington.

The Center for Whale Research, based in Friday Harbor, Washington, said Tuesday’s encounter with J57 showed the calf doing several rolls on the surface, allowing observers to clearly see its “gender slit.”

The young whale, known as J57, is the third birth for mother J35, also known as Tahlequah. She captured hearts around the world in 2018 when she carried her dead calf for 17 days in the Salish Sea in a dramatic display of grief.

Researchers believe J57 was born on Sept. 4. Tahlequah was discovered to be pregnant again in July.

The Center for Whale Research said J57 is the second viable calf of Tahlequah. J57’s brother, J47, was born in 2010.

The last healthy calf born to the southern resident whales was in May 2019.

J57’s arrival brings the population of southern resident killer whales to 73. The entire J Pod population has been in the San Juan Islands area since Sept. 1.

“For the southern resident killer whale community’s population sustainability, it is preferred that new calves are female,” the centre said in a statement.

“But regardless of gender, J57 is a very welcome addition. He is robust and appears healthy.”

The last sighting on Tuesday showed “a feisty young boy, rolling, spyhopping, and swimming alongside his mother, who was actively foraging for food.”

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