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J35 Tahlequah (pronounced tah-le-KWAH) is the matriarch of the J17 matriline. Tahlequah is one of Princess Angeline's (J-17) offspring. Tahlequah's two living siblings are her brother, Moby (J-44), and her sister, Kiki (J-53). Tahlequah is mother to Notch (J-47) who was born in 2010. Her niece, Star (J-46), is three months older than Notch. With the loss of her mother in 2019, Tahlequah has four family members in her charge.
Tragically, Tahlequah brought world-wide recognition to the plight of the Southern Residents in July 2018 when she carried her deceased calf (Ti-Tahlequah) for 17 days. Joyfully, Tahlequah gave birth to her third calf, Phoenix (J-57) in September 2020. It is hoped Phoenix will grow to be healthy and strong. When I painted this tile, I wanted to show her joy.
J45 Se yi chn
J45 Se yi chn Male born to J14 (Samish), her third calf, February/March, 2009
J 45 Se Yi Chn (pronounced SEA EE CHIN). Se Yi Chn is a young male member of J pod born in February or March in 2009. Se-Yi'-Chn is a Coast Salish/Samish word meaning "younger sibling" or the younger one in the family. Se-Yi'-Chn was named in a traditional potlatch naming ceremony held by the Samish Nation on October 17, 2009. His mother was Samish, (J14) and sadly she died in August 2016. Through genetic testing we know he was fathered by Mega from L Pod (L41). He has 2 living full siblings: Hy’Shqa) J37) and Shuttles (J40). And half siblings: Capricorn( J23) and Riptide (J30). Another sibling (J43) died before being named. His Grandmother is the famous Orca named Granny (J2), who was the Matriarch Leader of J Pod for many years.
J49 Tilem l’nges
J49 Tilem l’nges born to J37 (Hy'shqa), her first calf.
He is 8 years old and his name means "Singing Grandchild". This really touched my heart as a singing grandmother! He received his name at a traditional Samish Nation naming ceremony. His mom and her siblings, Suttle J40 and Se-Yi-Chn J45 also received their names in this manner. His mom was 11 years old when she gave birth to him her first calf; the youngest documented Southern Resident orca to give birth. She then made her mom, J14 Samish, a first time grandmother and J2 Granny a great great grandmother! The Center for Whale Research got an amazing photo of him with his dorsal fin flopped over (which makes birth easier; it stands up shortly after birth. I learned this from a post from Monika Wieland Shields who wrote Endangered Orcas, a book I hope to read soon. I got the inspiration for my painting from a book by Robert James Challenger called Eagle's Reflection and Other Northwest Coast Stories.
J56 Tofino was named after the place she was first seen. J56 has also been given a First Nations name, N̓ačiqs (Na-chi-cks) which means Tofino. On May 30, 2019, whale watchers encountered J Pod near Tofino and noticed a very tiny new calf with them! The calf still had fetal folds on its side and the Center for Whale Research estimated that she was born just a few days earlier on May 24th.
On July 5th, the Center for Whale Research had their first encounter with the new calf and were able to confirm that the mother was J31 “Tsuchi” (b. 1995). They were also able to get a clear view of her genital markings and announced that Tofino is a female!
K33 Tika Male born to K22 (Sekiu), her first calf, early Jan. 2001
Tika's name means swift and is depicted in the painting as swiftly moving through the Salish Sea. He was born in 2001 and is now considered an adult male with his tall fin. Tika was Sekia's first calf and remains her only living offspring. They are part of the K12 matrilineal group of the small K Pod. Tika's mother is the first born of Sequim who also had a calf in 2010 that is called Saturna and that makes Tika 9 years older than his Aunt.
L113 Cousteau born to L94 (Calypso), her first calf, October, 2009
L-113 Cousteau was born in 2009 and named after the famous marine conservationist, inventor and photographer, Jacques Cousteau. Her mother Calypso (L94), was born in 1995, named after Jacques Cousteau's research ship. Cousteau (L-113) is a member of the L-12 matriline, being cared for by her great-grandmother Alexis (L-12), her famous uncle Mega (L-41), and her auntie Matia (L-77)
L117 Keta born to L54 (Ino), her second calf, December, 2010
Keta’s name comes from another term used for Chum salmon which is a type of fish that the Southern Residents feed on. He has one living sibling, Coho (L-108). Coho's name is also the name of a salmon species. Wave Walker (L-88) spends much of his time with Keta’s family as he is the sole survivor of his matriline and has been adopted by Ino. He travels close to his mother Ino (L-54).
Gillian Allen and Jonah Erikson
L124 Whistle was born to L77 (Matia), her third calf, January, 2019. Whistle, a male, has a large family group to look after him.
L124 “Whistle” was named for the whistling vocalizations the Southern Residents use. Whether there is a special purpose for the whistling sounds is not known. However, whistles are used during social interactions and in short-range communication.
Whistle was first seen during a livestream of TV stations in Seattle. They aired live aerial footage of several groups of killer whales in Puget Sound and viewers were able to see a very small calf among them. During this livestream it became clear that the calf’s mother was L77 “Matia” (b. 1987)!
J36 Alki (pronounced “al-Kye”), a female, was born in early 1999. Her mother is “Slick” (J16), and her father is “Mega” (L41). She is known to have only one sibling, “Scarlet” (J50), but many half siblings. At the end of March in 2015, at the age of 16, Alki had a male calf which was named “Sonic” (J52). However, Sonic lived for only 21/2 years. After weaning from his mother’s milk, he lost weight and finally disappeared from the pod, thought to have died from malnutrition. Since female reproductive age ends around 40, Alki has time to produce more calves. Let’s hope she will, and let’s do what we can to protect her environment in the Salish Sea.
born November, 2009
Star is the first offspring of Polaris (J-28). Since the loss of her mother and younger brother in the fall of 2016, Star travels with her remaining family members - aunt Tahlequah (J-35), aunt Kiki (J-53), uncle Moby (J-44), and her cousin, Notch (J-47). Star's grandmother, Princess Angeline (J-17) was listed as deceased on August 6, 2019. A new member of this family arrived with the birth of her cousin, Phoenix (J-57), brother of Notch.
J51 Nova is the first offspring of Eclipse (J41), born in February 2015. Eclipse was just ten years old when she birthed Nova, which is very unusual. The average age of first pregnancies is 13 or 14 and 40 years of age is the upper average for last pregnancies. Nova, who is a male, is a member of what’s known as the Class of 2015, the eight claves born that year. This baby boom was very welcome as JPod had dropped to 77 in numbers in 2014 and the pod had gone two years without a successful birth. While another hazard that Orcas face is a fatality rate of 50% of all pregnancies, 2015 had a 80% success rate with newborns.
The word Nova is defined as a star showing a sudden large increase in brightness.......and there is such a thing as a Supernova. Nova, given the circumstances of your birth, you must be a Supernova! May your light shine brightly and may you live a long and healthy life.
Mary Anne Pare
J57 Phoenix's name represents that which can overcome the odds. He was born September 2020.
It was known that his mother, Tahlequah (J-35) was pregnant but, because she had lost her previous calf in 2018, there was concern that J-57 would not survive. In spite of all the odds, he did and has continued to thrive. He joins his brother, Notch (J-47), who is a very attentive big brother.
He is precocious, swimming vigorously alongside its mother.
K34 Cali born to K13 (Skagit), her fourth calf, Oct./Nov. 2001
Cali was born in 2001 in the K-pod and is now 19 years old and doing just fine. He will be 20 in the fall, so watch out lady Orcas, he will just be starting to think about dating. Cali’s mother, Skagit, had 4 offspring. Two sisters and a brother. Sadly, his older brother died in May 2019, two years after mom Skagit ,who died in the winter of 2017. Cali’s two older sisters Spock and Deadhead are doing very well. Father Mega from the L-pod has many offspring so Cali has several half-siblings as well as two nephews and an uncle. He surely isn’t lonely hunting and playing in the Salish Sea.
Cali- K34 (male, born 2001)
Spock- K20 (sister born 1986)
Deadhead- K27 (sister born 1994)
Skagit- K13 (mother born 1972est., died 2017)
Scoter- K25 (brother born 1991, died 2019)
K43 Saturna born to K12 (Sequim), her third calf, February, 2010
There’s not a lot of information out there about Saturna. She is the fifth offspring of Sequium (K-12) and the third to have survived. She has an older sister Sekiu (K-22 – b. 1987) who is the mother of Tika (K-33) born 2001. Saturna also has a brother Rainshadow (K-37, b. 2004) who she is often seen playing with. She is described as rambunctious, spunky and playful. Still a teenager, she will reach reproductive maturity within the next couple of years. Hopefully, she too will carry on her matrilineal line and give birth to a healthy calf with the noticeable whispy lines found on her saddle mark – a family trait that has been passed on for at least three generations.
L115 Mystic born to L47 (Marina), her third calf, August, 2010
Mystic is part of a large matriline in L-pod whose names all start with “M”! Mystic is the seventh calf born to Marina (L-47), but only has two living siblings, his sisters Moonlight (L-83) and Muncher (L-91). Mystic is an uncle to Muncher’s firstborn, Magic (L-122). Mystic is becoming a mature male, starting to sport the tall, straight dorsal fin characteristic of adult male orcas. Mother is L-47 Marina (1974).
Gillian Allen and Mateo Erikson
L122 Magic is a male orca, born in September 2015. 2015 was a good year for births and Magic was the fifth orca born that year in the Southern community, two others in L pod were also born that year. Magic’s mother is Muncher, number L91 and she was born in 1995. Magic was Muncher’s first born. All the orcas in that family tree have names beginning with the letter M. Not all of the L pod orcas have names beginning with M because there are other families in the same pod.
Orca pods tend to stay together and L pod orcas have been seen as far away as Sooke and they even cross the border into USA waters. Mothers look after their young long after birth but fathers usually have little to do with their young. Magic is often seen very close to his mother. Our southern community orcas prefer salmon, especially chinook of which they may eat several in a day so they are somewhat dependent on a good supply. Salmon are not always abundant. Salmon also are dependent on a good supply of food; herring is salmon’s favourite food and it is not always plentiful because thousands of herring are exported every year.
Malcolm C. Armstrong
J40 Suttles is an offspring of Samish (J-14). Her older sister is Hy'Shqa (J-37) and younger brother is Se-Yi'-Chn (J-45). Their mother died in 2016. Suttles was named in a traditional potlatch naming ceremony held by the Samish Nation on October 1, 2005. Suttles is often seen with Tsuchi (J-31) and her youngster, Tofino (J-56), possibly helping a mother with her baby.
J44 Moby born to J17 (Princess Angeline), her third calf, February, 2009
Moby is a male from the J-pod. It’s his birthday this month! He will be 12 years old, young and playful, a time for him to play with his niece, Star, and nephew, Notch. Moby has two siblings and many half-siblings too, he is so lucky to have so many playmates. It is sad to know, his mother, named Princess Angeline, went missing in the summer of 2019, then was presumed dead that August. What happened, we don’t know. Life in the Salish Sea is full of so many dangers and food might be scarce, a whale’s life is hard.
Princess Angeline- J17 (Mother, deceased)
Star- J46 (Niece)
Tahlequah- J35 (sister)
Kiki- J53 (sister)
J47 Notch is the first child of Tahlequah (J-35) and was born in 2010. When he was young he was wounded and now has a large notch in his dorsal fin (which is where he got his name). Tahlequah gave birth to another orca in September of 2020 whose name is Phoenix (J-57). Notch has an Uncle Moby (J-44) and cousin Star (J-46) and is close with them because they were all born around the same time. In 2018, his mother gave birth to his sister who only lived for one hour which led to a long grieving time for these whales.
J53 Kiki has a special name. She is named in honor of Chief Seattle's daughter's original name, Kikisoblu, of the Lushootseed, a native language used in most of western Puget Sound in the 1800's. Kiki is the fourth offspring of Princess Angeline (J-17) who died in 2019. She has two sisters, Polaris (J-28)-deceased and Tahlequah (J-35), and one brother, Moby (J-44). She is an aunt to Star (J-46), Notch (J-47), Dipper (J-54)-deceased, and Phoenix (J-57).
J58 Crescent is the word used to represent a lunar phase of the moon. The name Crescent may be showing the beginning of a new moon and in the case of this orca, a new life is beginning. Crescent’s mother, Eclipse (J41), and Crescent’s brother, Nova (J51), have names related to the solar system. It’s a wonderful way to connect this young family together.
K35 Sonata born to K16 (Opus), her first calf, Fall, 2002
Sonata K35 was born in the autumn of 2002; so he would be 19 years old now. He is the only living offspring of Opus K16. He and his mom are often seen traveling with Cappuccino K21 who was born in 1986. They seem to have adopted him into their tight knit matrilineal. He is the perfect role model for a maturing young male like Sonata. I chose to show off his tall dorsal fin that has probably reached its full height and has a pointier tip than other mature males. He also has an interesting tear shaped saddle that is more cream colored than white. The photo was from a captain's blog from Orca Spirit Adventures; where I also gleaned more information: The K-pod orcas are the smallest group of the three orca pods belonging to the endangered Southern Resident Killer whale population. They are often the last to show up in the Salish Sea during the spring and summer months.
They have a strict diet of fish with Chinook salmon being their favorite food to eat due to their large size and high fat content. Even though the three pods can't travel as a large unit all the time due to food availability restrictions; they will at times meet up for what is known as a Superpod - full of socializing, mating and lots of chatter that can be picked up on board with their onboard hydrophones.
I can only hope and imagine that Sonata has fathered some young orcas and may continue to do so for a very long time. Eventually he may be a role model for another young male. I also hope he continues to be there to support his mom!
Participant researcher and artist Sandra Johnson
L106 Pooka born to L86 (Surprise), her first calf, first seen June, 2005
Pooka is a sprouting male Southern Resident Orca, born 2006. Mother is Surprise L86, born 1991. According to the Whale Museums list of whales, Pooka was named after a mythical creature from Celtic folklore who is a shapeshifter who most often appears as a black and white horse. Pooka is the son of Surprise! (L-86). His younger sister Sooke (L-112) was found washed up on a Washington beach in February 2012. Pooka and his mother spend most of their time with his two aunts and cousins.
L116 Finn was born in October 2010 into the tight knit L Pod family of the Southern Resident Orca Whales. The Southern Resident clan is made up of three pods; L, J and K. The L Pod is the largest of the three at approx. 33. The oldest of the clan is estimated to have been born in 1928, L125. Wow!
Finn was his Mama's (Kasatka L82, born 1990) first calf. Kasatka, Finn's Grandma (Nugget L55), Aunts (Lapis L103) (Jade L118) and Uncle (Takoda L109) provide him with lots of love and support. He also has a younger cousin to play with (Lazuli L123- calf of Lapis).
I like to imagine Finn, as shown in the tile painting, feeling safe and surrounded by love.
While reading of his sightings, I was gushing with pride at his cheeky playfulness. He was witnessed wrestling with his young pod mates (2012) and was seen doing his inverted tail slaps and breeching over and over again (2013). His spinning spy hop was unforgettable for one witness.
His most recent sighting was Jan 2020, where he was spotted off Race Rocks doing dives of approx 5 minutes with his group. Close by was his Mama Kasatka and Uncle Takoda. Orcas have been known to dive down to 800 ft in the Salish Sea. Holy Orca that's deep!
Live long and strong Finn.
L119 Joy is known for her lively personality. Researchers describe her as spunky and curious. She is often seen breaching playfully over and over again, sometimes playing with bull kelp, holding long pieces between her teeth and tail notch while leaping into the air.
She is a member of the large and interesting family of L12 Martiline, of which consists of Joy, her little brother Whistle (born in 2019) their mother Matia (L-77) Matia's younger sister Calypso and her two offspring as well as two adopted family members. Mystery is a male who is the only survivor of his family and Ocean Sun, also the only survivor of her original family. Ocean Sun born in 1928 is the oldest Resident Orca. This family is known for its independence often leaving the rest of L Pod for extended periods of time. No one knows where they go or why. Joy was Matia's first calf and was born in 2012.
L123 Lazuli born to L103 (Lapis), her first calf, November, 2015
Lazuli (L-123) is a calf born by Lapis (L-43) in L-Pod in December 2015. L-Pod is considered to be the biggest family group of the 3 pods in the southern region killer whale populations.
Inspiration for the tile dedicated to Lazuli was drawn from his name and his mothers' name, Lapis. Lapis lazuli is a beautiful deep-blue with white veins metaphoric rock that is prized by many. I decided to paint the waters and the lettering as a representation of the stone he was named after.
Lazuli is cared for by a big family including his aunties Kasatka and Jade, and his uncle Takoda. Lazuli has a playmate in his older cousin Finn who is five years his senior. Lazuli was born with a sharply curved dorsal fin, characteristic of his entire matriline.
They are a close-knit family. It seems that in recent years Kasatka and Finn travel up ahead of the rest of the family. This family spends time with the L47s, a family similar to theirs, with females and juveniles.
During 2017, due to the scarcity of salmon, the whales remained on the outer coast where their chances of finding enough food were better. The L4s, L26s, L47s, and the 72s, a total of 19 whales, were the only Killer Whales in the inland waters during the month of August. In September J, K, and most of L Pod were present for a few days. Lazuli was seen on several occasions breaching.
Rutger Kamphuis and Carolyn Danco