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.

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

“Such findings imply that, in order to be adaptive, first impressions of personality or social characteristics should be accurate,” a study published in the journal Intelligence says. “There is accumulating evidence that this is indeed the case—at least to some extent—for traits such as intelligence extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and narcissism, and even for characteristics such as sexual orientation, political ideology, or antigay prejudice.”

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'Merry Christmas' on YouTube.

The world must have been—mostly—good this year. Because Elton John and Ed Sheeran have teamed up to gift us all with a brand new Christmas single.

The song, aptly named “Merry Christmas,” is a perfect blend of silly and sweet that’s cheery, bright and just a touch bizarre.

Created with the holiday spirit in every way, it has whimsical snowball fights, snow angels (basically all the snow things), festive sweaters, iconic throwbacks and twinkling lights galore. Plus all profits from the tune are dedicated to two charities: the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

I personally don’t know which is more of a highlight: Ed Sheeran channeling his inner-Mariah, performing a faux sexy dance in a leg revealing Santa outfit, or him flying through the air with a giant Frosty the Snowman … who seems to be sporting glasses similar to Elton’s. Are we meant to believe that Elton is the Snowman? This music video even has mystery.
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