It’s been a rough year, but not all news in 2020 is bad.
Earlier this month, researchers stated that southern resident killer whale J35 (also known as Tahlequah) gave birth to a calf, and newly released photos confirm that the newest member of the J pod is a healthy male.
The calf, identified as J57, was spotted off the coast of Point Roberts Tuesday night and researchers were able to identify his sex.
Estimated to be born around Sept. 4 or so, the calf was seen rolling and swimming alongside his mother who was foraging for food.
“For the Southern Resident killer whale community’s population sustainability, it is preferred that new calves are female. But regardless of gender, J57 is a very welcome addition,” the Center for Whale Research wrote. “He is robust and appears healthy.”
J57 is the second viable calf of mother Tahlequah and will join his brother J47, who was born in 2010, in the pod. According to the Orca Network, the J pod has 23 members.
Tahlequah made international headlines in 2018 when she carried the body of her female calf, which died within an hour of birth, on her back or near her fin for 17 days and over 1,000 miles before letting it go. Her swim caught the attention of millions around the world as her act of grieving went on for days, then weeks.
While this “Tour of Grief” is what made her famous, researchers are hoping that happier days are ahead for the mother and her new calf.
“We hope this calf is a success story,” the researchers said.