Researchers say that an ailing female southern resident orca is now showing a true “peanut head”, when blubber on the cranium is sunken due to weight loss.
J-pod was spotted by a team on the “Morning Star” heading toward Cadboro Point on Vancouver Island on December 31st around 12:30 p.m.
It was noted that the health of J17, a 42-year-old southern resident, mother and grandmother, continues to be a source of concern.
“J17 has not improved in health and showing a true peanuthead now” reads an update describing the encounter on the Center for Whale Research website.
J17 is mother to two females J28 and J35, and male J44.
Her daughter J35 garnered international attention in July of 2018 after she carried her dead newborn calf for more than two weeks.
The tragedy was followed by the death of 3-year-old female J50 despite a concerted cross-border effort to try to save her. She’d also developed a peanut head.
The endangered southern resident population now stands at just 74, down from 96 in 1993.