Submitted by the Pacific Whale Watch Association
Following an encounter on Sept. 22 near Point Roberts, Washington, naturalist and photographer Sara Hysong-Shimazu of Maya’s Legacy captured definitive photographic proof that Tahlequah’s (J35) new calf J57 is a boy.
“Last night the whales were extremely social while actively foraging for salmon,” Hysong-Shimazu said. “Tahlequah (J35) and her calf J57 were accompanied closely by J42 and several other whales, with a lot more whales in the area. … J35 and J42 breached together a few times, and then Tahlequah rolled her calf J57 up on her back, exposing his belly.”
Hysong-Shimazu and the crew of Maya’s Legacy recognized immediately that the baby was a boy, as word spread through the passionate whale watching community.
“He also spyhopped, which was so cute,” Hysong-Shimazu said. “It was really touching to see how active and social they were together and to see J57 surfacing with both his mom and surrounded by others in the community. He certainly seemed spunky and energetic!”
Following the encounter, Hysong-Shimazu provided photos to the Center for Whale Research who confirms the calf is male. Tahlequah’s new calf J57 was estimated to have been born on Sept. 4 and was first sighted by a captain and naturalist aboard another PWWA vessel, who alerted researchers to the presence of the new baby.
This baby is Tahlequah’s second viable baby, joining ten-year-old brother J47, born in 2010. Tahlequah made headlines worldwide in 2018 when she carried her deceased calf for 17 days before eventually letting it go.