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J28 (Polaris) Female born to - J17 (Princess Angeline) in 1993,

her first calf.  Polaris went missing Oct. 2016 (age 23)


(Prayer flag by Sandy Ollsin)


“Polaris (J-28) was one of the easiest whales to identify amongst the Southern Residents by a large nick in her dorsal fin that she obtained in 2002. Polaris’ first calf is a little girl named Star (J-46) who she gave birth to at the age of sixteen. She lost a calf in 2013, but then gave birth to her son in December of 2015, at the end of the 2014-2015 baby boom. He was the greatest Christmas gift anyone could ever ask for. He was named Dipper (J-54), to coincide with the names of his mom and sister. The North Star is also known as Polaris and Polaris marks the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper.


Polaris first showed signs of depleted health in January of 2016, and was discovered to be emaciated this July. Her sister Tahlequah and her six year old daughter were seen bringing her and Dipper fish in an attempt to save them from starvation. On a sunny day in late October, our naturalists and captain reported that they were with J and L pods near Sooke. Sadly they informed us that Polaris was nowhere to be seen and little Dipper was swimming alone, barely strong enough to make it to the surface to take a breath. He had teeth rake marks all over his back and dorsal fin where his sister Star had desperately tried to pull him up to breathe. But at just 10 months old, Dipper would not survive without his mama’s milk. His sister Star and 6 year old cousin Notch were seen lifting him up together, willing him to keep fighting. It was the last day he was ever seen, and heartbreak across the whale world set in. It is difficult to think about Polaris’ orphaned daughter who turned just seven in November without her family by her side. She will stay close to her auntie, grandmother, cousin and new little uncle who is just a year old, but we presume she is lonely for her Mom and little brother. Polaris and Dipper will be missed dearly, their loss leaves a hole in all our hearts. Their deaths remind us all of the work we need to continue in Chinook salmon recovery and protection to prevent any more members of this family from suffering the same fate. We hope that their memory will live on every time we look up at the stars and see Polaris and the Little Dipper. We will always be grateful for the memories they have given us, the smiles they put on our faces, and the joy they brought to our hearts.”

Orca Spirit Adventures, Dec. 18, 2016

“J-28 Polaris (Female) Born 1993: Polaris is a stunning female in J-pod. It is always fun to spot Polaris as she is a fairly new Mom, having her first calf Star (J-46) in 2009. Polaris is easy to pick out because she has a nick out of her dorsal fin, about half way down the trailing edge. She is the oldest offspring of Princess Angeline (J-17), and sister to Tahlequah (J-35) and Moby (J-44). This expanding family is a treat to see as Polaris, her mom, and her sister all had calves within one year. All calves have survived and play together continuously.”

Citizen Scientist: Sandy Ollsin

This report is from Orca Spirit Adventures, May 6, 2012

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