On July 24, 2018, a female Southern Resident orca calf was born in the Salish Sea, but she survived less than an hour. Her grieving mother J35 Tahlequah carried her lifeless body for 17 days and 1,000 miles. This heartbreaking Tour of Grief raised awareness around the world about the plight of the Southern Resident orcas and led to increased recovery efforts throughout the region.
On September 4th 2020, Tahlequah gave birth again, this time to a healthy male, J57 Phoenix. The following day both K and L Pods came in from the ocean to join J Pod, forming the first true superpod (all members of all 3 pods present) in inland waters in several years. Whether the timing was just coincidence or K and L Pods somehow knew and came in to celebrate the new life we can only guess. But what followed became the stuff of legend.
Please click the video below to see the full 6-minute video, filmed and narrated by Center for Whale Research’s Lodie Gilbert Budwill who recounts her experience on the research boat with Ken Balcomb as they documented this legendary superpod.
Narrated by Lodie Gilbert Budwill, Community Relations Coordinator, Center for Whale Research. Video footage and photo taken under federal research permits NMFS 21238 / DFO SARA 388.