Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

A mother ;killer whale known for its high fertility is presumed dead

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The female killer whale Wake was seen for the last time in February 2023.

Radio-Canada

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Wake, qualified by a scientist as “one of the most fertile female killer whales ever known”, has not been seen for almost a year. British Columbia researchers presume she died.

T46, also called Wake, was a transient or Bigg's killer whale. The animal was born in 1966.

Jared Towers, a research technician at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and general manager of Bay Cetology, estimates that Wake gave birth to eight baby killer whales during her breeding years. Her daughters gave birth to 15 grandchildren and her granddaughters had five great-grandchildren.

Please note that these are only maternal descendants. We do not know the descent of her sons due to the social structure in which killer whales live, details Jared Towers.

Wake was seen for the last seen on February 20, 2023 near Alert Bay, British Columbia, an island community off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Since then, her family has been observed several times, but without her.

Wake was first sighted in 1976 when she was captured with five other killer whales in Puget Sound, a fjord on the west coast of the United States in Washington state. The cetaceans then had to be placed in an aquarium.

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Jared Towers says he was the last person to see Wake. According to him, she seemed in good health at the time. She was standing near another elderly female, known as T36, or Flapjack.

Elderly females are sometimes seen traveling together, says Jared Towers. It was quite nice to see them keeping each other company. Little did I know then that it was the last time I saw her.

Bigg's killer whales feed on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and porpoises. They thrive on the West Coast, unlike the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, which face dwindling salmon stocks.

According to Jared Towers, the Bigg's killer whale population is increasing at about 4% per year.

D' x27;after information from Joel Ballard

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