Orca Nootka [L-51] belongs to L-POD and takes her name from the Nuu-chah-nulth indigenous peoples of our Pacific Northwest Coast.
Like so many of our southern resident Orcas nowadays her story ends in tragedy. Nootka, born in 1973, was just 17 years old when she gave birth to a healthy male calf known as Nyssa-L84. He would have been around 7 ft long and weighed some 350 lb. Quite the baby! This was just the start of Nootka’s reproductive years as in a normal, healthy environment female Orcas usually have a calf every 4-5 years until they reach the age of ~40 and, get this, may live to 100 years or more to become “the grand matriarch”.
My delving into the orca world suggests that another male calf was born ~4 years later but I wasn’t able to find a name for this elusive sibling. Then in the spring of 1999 Nootka gave birth to a female calf known as Tweak-L97. All was well with mother and baby until the heartbreaking news in October that year: 26 year old Nootka had been found washed ashore at Race Rocks, near Victoria. Apparently an examination into the cause of her death showed that she likely died from an infection related to a prolapsed uterus. Of course there was huge concern for orphaned baby Tweak who was seen swimming with her older brother Nyassa and a cousin, according to whale researcher Jodi Smith. Tweak appeared emaciated and weak, and in an effort to feed her Nyassa and an uncle were seen breaking up fish and attempting to feed her – though the baby Orca would normally be nursing at this age.
A few days later Tweak's closest relatives returned to the San Juan Islands. Nyassa was in the close company of his grandmother's sister, Tanya (L-5) but baby Tweak wasn't among them.
Wake up world!
Are we going to stand by and watch species after species go extinct?
It’s up to all of us to take action. Extinction is forever!
Citizen Scientist: Lisa Baile