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Life above water may have been a challenge for many in 2021, but, under the Salish Sea, conditions were ripe for a baby boom. The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) issued a press release on Tuesday, noting that their members and local researchers saw Bigg’s killer whales humpback whales, gray whales, and minke whales make a lot of appearances last year with a baby in tow. “It has been incredible to witness the continued rise of Bigg’s killer whales in the Salish Sea,” Monika Wieland Shields, director of Orca Behavior Institute on San Juan Island, said in a press release. Professional whale watchers, regional sightings groups and shore-based observers reported Bigg’s killer whales in the Salish Sea in 1,067 unique sightings over 329 days. The previous record, set in 2019, was 747 unique sightings. The population of these sea mammals has grown more than four per cent a year, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. There were 11 new Bigg’s calves born in 2021, including the most recent, which was spotted by PWWA member companies near Victoria on New Year’s Eve. The number seven at the end of the calf’s ID number indicates it is the seventh baby born to 37-year-old mother, “Kittiwake.”

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