Female Southern resident orca J32, known as Rhapsody, has been found dead. A necropsy on Saturday will hopefully reveal a cause of death and whether this 18 year-old was pregnant, as it is thought she might have been. The Southern resident population is now reduced to 77 individuals.
From the Orca Network:
"Very sad news. The deceased orca in Georgia Strait found earlier today is 18-year old J32, Rhapsody, according to photos sent by Canada's Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans and identified by Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research. J32 was thought by many to be in the late stages of pregnancy last summer. A necropsy Saturday will reveal if she was indeed pregnant and hopefully the cause of death. A recent generous grant by the Milgard Foundation will allow Ken Balcomb to attend and assist in the necropsy.
J32's mother was J20, who died in 1998 when Rhapsody was only 2 years old. She was raised by her aunt, J22 Oreo. She is survived by J22 and her cousins J34 Doublestuf and J38 Cookie, leaving only three survivors of the former J10 matriline, and only 77 members of the Southern Resident Community.
We cannot express how tragic this loss is for this struggling, precariously small, family of resident orcas of the Salish Sea.
Rhapsody in Blue, composed by George Gershwin":