It’s costing killer whale mothers and their adult sons
Dana Point Whales: Their first glimpse into the ocean’s oceans and their first predators, and how they show up in the end of their young life
Looking into blue-green waters just off the coast of Dana Point, Calif., people on the small boat spotted an adult gray whale splashing about. Then a pool of “something orange and red colored” appeared to spread.
“Many of us thought it may be a shark or predatory event. The end of life was the beginning of a new one. The tour company wrote about the statement.
This is something new for all of us. “We’ve never actually seen it happen,” an excited Capt.Brighouse can be heard saying in a video taken just moments after the birth.
A baby whale is lying on its mother and nuzzling the face of someone else in video taken by drones and phones. The size of the mother is between 40 to 50 feet, and the boats are 24 feet long.
The American Cetacean Society’s Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project has a chapter in Los Angeles. The giant mammals make their way from Alaska to the warm water lagoons in Baja California, Mexico, in a period of months from December through May.
She added: “It’s extraordinarily rare and really, really special for people to be able to share in those first few moments of a young whale’s life. A whale could get to be 50, 60, 80 years old. And this is just the beginning of that calf life.”
The reason for that is that gray whale calves take about 24 hours to be rigid, which is part of the reason for that. Until then, they can’t really swim forward so they need to be guided and helped along.
And when the calf swims up toward its mother’s face to rub itself against her, Schulman-Janiger said that’s typical mammal behavior. “Land mammals smell each other but ocean mammals can’t smell so a lot of their skin (is) very sensitive. That is the reason why there’s a lot of touch going on.
The Dead calf isn’t dead, but it’s in the blood — a tribute to Schulman-Janiger
The various clips are a tremendous windfall for gray whale researchers, Schulman-Janiger said, marveling that the “astounding” footage was captured at all.
The calf must have just come out if you can see the blood pool. That isn’t something that is often seen or documented. I don’t know if there’s any other video footage of that.
In 2016, NOAA Fisheries, estimated there were nearly 27,000 eastern North Paciﬁc gray whales. But the latest figures tabulated in the winter of 2021/2022 placed the estimated population at 16,650. The drop has been declared an Unusual Mortality event.
In all of her years out in the field, Schulman-Janiger admitted she’s never witnessed an actual birth. Almost nine years ago, she was able to spot a newborn calf that was less than an hour old. There are photos and a description here.
Killer whale mamas are still supporting their adult sons and itscosting them… not just K16, but K35, in the Pacific Northwest
It’s not just K16. The paper was written by Weiss and his colleagues and looked back at life history records for Southern Resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. It was clear that the trends were clear.
Michael Weiss, the research director of the center for whale research in Friday Harbor,Washington, said that the two are very close.
Male orcas are massive, and so are their appetites. It could be harder for them to catch prey because they are less maneuverable. All this means that a male like K35 needs help getting enough food.
So his mom will often dive down, says Weiss, “catch a salmon, and bring it up to the surface and actually bite half of the fish off and leave that half for her son. She’s sharing a lot of food.
And here’s the striking thing — since K35 was born two decades ago, his mom has never had another calf. Contrast that with other females in the population.
Some whales had daughters when they started reproducing at the same age. And they’ve produced three or four offspring.”
Orca Studies: How Do Orca Mothers and Sons Make Orca Families Expensive? The Norwegian Orca Survey’s Eve Jourdain
A mother dies and her son perishes within a year or two. “We think that is largely because they’re seeing a huge reduction in the amount of food they get,” explains Weiss.
Weiss can’t think of a animal that would make this investment and then have another attempt at reproducing multiple times. Why would the orca mothers sacrifice so much for their sons? Weiss thinks the payoff is huge.
The result is that his mom would become a grandmother multiple times over. A bunch of calves would carry her genes. She wouldn’t have to raise them because they’ll be born into other Pods.
“It’s an amazing piece of work,” says Eve Jourdain, the director of the Norwegian Orca Survey. Jourdain, who wasn’t involved in the study, is hoping to conduct a similar research project in Norway.
Jourdain says there could be direct comparisons. Can we start to understand how important it is for the preservation of those different populations?
“That’s how you keep a population of slow-breeding animals going,” says Weiss. It’s really not ideal to invest in sons for a population that is so stressed out.