Remember the grieving orca who held her dead calf for 17 days? She just gave birth.

Two summers ago, the world watched with aching empathy as an orca mother, whose baby had died about 30 minutes after it was born, grieved. A group of female orcas surrounded her in a circle for at least two hours after the birth and death—a seemingly clear symbol of sympathy and solidarity. The mother had a hard time letting go, though, as she kept the dead calf afloat for 17 consecutive days. Even through rough waters, when the calf would slip and fall, she'd dive deep to push it back to the surface again.

Expressions of grief are common among marine mammals, but this orca—tagged by researchers as "J35" but known colloquially as Talequah—seemed to show an extreme reaction to the loss. And her grief moved us all, perhaps due to our tendency to anthropomorphize animals or perhaps as a reflection of our own individual losses. Real or attributed, we felt her pain.

But now we can rejoice with her as she has given birth to a healthy calf, and so far, all appears to be well. Ken Balcomb, founder for the Center for Whale Research, said the calf (known as J57) looked "very robust and lively" according to the New York Times.



That's not only good news for Talequah, but for the entire Southern Resident orca population. Orcas, who are also known as "killer whales" live in pods of up to 40 members and help one another hunt and care for young. Southern Resident orcas, who make their home in the Salish Sea off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia, have seen their numbers dwindle in recent decades. As of January 2020, there were just 73 Southern Resident orcas counted—the lowest population since 1976.

"With such a small population ... every successful birth is hugely important for recovery," wrote Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research in a July press release,

Recovering the Southern Resident Killer Whale with Research and Conservation youtu.be

These endangered, majestic mammals are threatened by human activity in the ocean as well as pollution that runs to the ocean from land. The Center for Whale Research has a list of specific things we can do to help conserve orca habitats and improve their chances of survival, including watching what we pour down our drains, practicing natural yard care, keeping waterways clean, and more. All of those little things add up when enough people do them, which can make all the difference for animals who rely on us to keep their homes safe enough for them to thrive.

Welcome to the planet, J57. And congratulations on your "rainbow baby," Mama Talequah. We know you're going to take great care of your new family member.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.