A famous killer whale that is often seen hanging around the B.C. coast is about to be a mom again. Researchers confirmed the pregnant B.C. orca is the same one who suffered the devastating loss of her baby in 2018 and carried its body around for weeks in mourning. But recent photos show her to be healthy, happy, and with a certain glow. 

The orca named Tahlequah, or J35, made international headlines back in 2018 after her newborn calf died just 30 minutes after being born, according to the Huffington Post.

Then, the grieving mother carried her child hundreds of miles in the water with her over the course of 17 days.

Now, almost exactly two years later, drone footage showed Tahlequah gifted with another chance at motherhood. The images were published by non-profit SR3 in a news release on Sunday, July 26.

The images were taken by SR3 researcher Dr. Holly Fearnbach and Southall Environmental Associates' (SEA) Dr. John Durban.

According to the release, however, a majority of recent orca pregnancies haven't resulted in live births.

"These reproductive failures are linked to nutrition and access to their Chinook salmon prey," they wrote, "so we hope folks on the water can give the Southern Residents plenty of space to forage at this important time."

This group of southern resident killer whales, are struggling to keep their numbers up. According to data, there are only 73 southern residents currently alive.

The Seattle Times reported that Tahlequah's last baby was the first in her group in three years.

Tahlequah still has a long way to go before giving birth — according to Earther, killer whale pregnancies can last up to a year and a half.

It's part of why they're so slow to reproduce and why the salmon populations are so hard on pregnancies — pregnant whales often can't find enough to eat.

Still, research biologist Dr. Deborah Giles told Earther that she's cautiously optimistic for Tahlequah. "It’s always good news when they’re pregnant," she said. "I’m hopeful for J35."

After birth, orca families will stick together for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, Tahlequah's newest family member is just a few months away.

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