We are excited to announce that during our encounter with the CA51As on 9/7/21, we were able to determine that the newest member of the CA51As - CA51A4 "Eclipse" - is a boy! The son of CA51A "Aurora", his nickname aligns with his family's stellar theme, and was inspired by the smudged shadowy birthmark on his right eyepatch.
Unfortunately, our boats missed the big celebration after they killed a probable elephant seal, right where this calf was breaching and spyhopping. We thank Blue Ocean Whale Watch, Sanctuary Cruises, Erica Wirth, and Adriana Basquez for providing underside photos that allowed us to confirm his gender.
CA51A4 Eclipse was first seen in April 2021, as a very orange calf - most likely only 2-3 months old; his white pigmentation still has a dull orange tinge. He is very robust, and growing fast! During this encounter, the CA51As hunted down a pinniped, celebrated, and then headed to the west. CA50B (a male who often closely associates with the CA51As) was seen tail slapping with little CA51A4: a big adult male next to this little male calf. Sometimes we cannot verify the gender of a killer whale until a male's dorsal fin begins to grow rapidly during puberty ("sprouting"), or a female gives birth: so very cool to be able to confirm that CA51A4 Eclipse is a male - when he is still less than a year old!
Photos by Daniel Bianchetta, Research Biologist Colleen Talty, MBWW intern Morgan Quimby, and passenger Adriana Basques.