Friday, January 2, 2015

1/2 Orca birth update, Puget Sound recovery

Elwha River, 12.31.14 (Tom Roorda and Coastal Watershed Institute)
Update: Newborn joins J-pod; mother may be missing
The excitement of spotting a newborn orca calf in J-pod became shrouded in mystery after further study revealed uncertainty surrounding its birth. The Center for Whale Research confirmed seeing and photographing 42-year-old J-16 with, presumably, her newborn baby, off the south shores of North Pender Island in Canadian waters on Dec. 30. The baby, known as J-50, is the second calf to be born in 2014, after a two-year lull of no births among the Southern Resident killer whales. Although researchers initially recognized the peculiarity of 42-year-old J-16 giving birth (no other female has given birth at that age in four decades of demographic field studies of the Southern Resident orcas), the calf appeared to be healthy and energetic, swimming alongside its presumed mother…. While studying the photos of the calf it appeared to [Ken] Balcomb and his team that newborn J-50 had teeth marks on its dorsal fin, which could indicate a difficult birth, where another whale had to use its mouth to help pull the baby out of its mother's uterus…. Perhaps the most important missing link to the story is J-36, the 16-year-old daughter of J-16, who wasn't seen when the baby was discovered amidst the clan. Under normal circumstances, J-36 would be traveling with or near her family. Having strung all the pieces together, Balcomb speculates that J-36, who is of prime breeding age, is the mother of J-50, and could have died during a complicated birth--meaning that J-16 is the calf's grandmother and will not be able to provide milk. "Worst case scenario is we have another example where a female died giving birth," Balcomb said. "Best case  is that grandma (J-16) is mom, and J-36 missing is coincidence." Emily Greenberg reports. (San Juan Journal)

Puget Sound: Hopeful signs shine through complex cleanup effort
Chris Dunagan writes: "While putting the final touches on a two-year, 10-part series about the Puget Sound ecosystem, I couldn’t help but wonder about the true character of Washington state and its citizens. How much do people really care about salmon and rockfish, eagles and herons, killer whales, cougars, and many lesser-known species in and around Puget Sound? Do we have a political system capable of supporting the needed efforts — financially and legally — to correct the problems? After interviewing hundreds of people over the past few years, I have a pretty good feeling about this state, especially when considering other parts of the country. There is hope that we can save some of the remaining gems of the Puget Sound ecosystem while restoring functioning conditions in other places…." (Kitsap Sun)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 842 PM PST THU JAN 1 2015
FRI
W WIND RISING TO 10 TO 20 KT. WIND WAVES BUILDING TO 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 3 FT AT 11 SECONDS. RAIN.
FRI NIGHT
NW WIND 10 TO 20 KT...BECOMING LIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT...SUBSIDING. W SWELL 5 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
SAT
SE WIND TO 10 KT. WIND WAVES 1 FT OR LESS. NW SWELL 5 FT AT 12 SECONDS.
SAT NIGHT
SE WIND RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT. NW SWELL 4 FT AT 11 SECONDS.
SUN
E WIND RISING TO 25 TO 35 KT...THEN EASING LATE. SEAS 4 TO 7 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS.
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