First baby orca of 2018 surfaces in Salish Sea


WATCH: A bright splash and tiny dorsal fin are causing a big buzz in the whale-watching community off Vancouver Island this week with the surfacing of the first baby orca of 2018. The youngster, still pink and believed to just a week old, is a Bigg’s, or transient, orca. 

Gary Sutton watched a rite of spring surface in a splash while out whale watching on Sunday.

“Incredible to see,” said the Cowichan Bay whale-watching guide.

“That’s the funnest thing about this job and this life is that you never know what you’re gonna see and when you see that kind of stuff go on like you know something cool is happening. We actually got lucky and they came past the boat and we all got a good look at the baby and it was the big ‘awww’ thing that happened yeah,” said the Ocean EcoVentures guide.

The newborn transient orca calf, that’s still pink instead of white, is believed to be the first baby orca of 2018 in the Salish Sea. Sutton said the animal finds itself in very good company as killer whales go. Its mother, 65A, is renowned by whale watchers as a good mama for how she provides for her young. Once grown, they don’t leave her side.

“She’s awesome at it obviously,” said Sutton. “Actually all of her kids are still with her which is kind of unique,” he said.

Sutton said more than anything he’d like to see out here though is a new baby born to the endangered Southern Resident Orcas that now number just 76.

“It is the residents that are in dire need of that right now,” said Sutton.

Yet the  growing number of transient orcas could be very good for the southern residents, since Bigg’s eat the seals and porpoises that compete with southern resident orcas for diminishing numbers of salmon. This gives wildlife enthusiasts even more reason to celebrate the new baby.

“This world that we work in and live in with the whale folk is we almost like a family member’s had a child its very exciting for everybody,” Sutton said.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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