Jan 16, 2019 | Updated: 03:16 PM EST

New Births Spark Hope for Conservation Ecologists: Orca and California Condor Share Miracle of New Life

Jan 12, 2015 10:11 PM EST


Despite continued threats of extinction to a variety of species, life has once again proven it won't give up without a fight thanks to new births from several endangered species this week. These new births have thrilled conservation ecologists across the world that work tirelessly to protect these species. And these new babies bring hope of survival to species that are slowly dwindling.

Wildlife biologists were delighted when a breeding pair of endangered California condors, known as Shadow and Wild 1 secretly gave birth to a baby condor. They produced an egg and incubated it for 60 days to hatch a healthy baby bird. The baby condor is now seven months old and doing great. The pair raised the condor for six months before it was even discovered by scientists who are now seeking help from the public in naming this latest hope for the species.

Joe Burnett, wildlife biologist and condor project coordinator for the Ventana Wildlife Society, says "It is just a sign of how effectively the flock is carrying out that they are flying out on their own, creating nests and breeding on their own".

California condors are the largest birds in North America but have suffered heavy losses in the last several years due to lead poisening, poaching and habitat destruction.

But the birds of the air aren't the only populations to celebrate new births. One only has to look under the sea to celebrate the latest births in endangered wildlife populations. A few days before the new year, a pod of endangered killer whales known as orcas celebrated a new birth as well. The baby calf has been spotted multiple times by scientists, who were able to determine that the baby is female.

This orca pod roams around the Gulf Islands and Puget Sound in the Pacific Ocean and recently suffered a devastating loss of a pregnant 19-year-old female. If this newborn survives, it will be the first successful calf for the pod in more than two years.

A female brownbanded bamboo shark also gave birth to a new a new pup after four years of isolation. This case is particularly interesting and came as a complete surprise to the staff at the Steinhart Aquarium. Dr. Luiz Rocha, a researcher at the aquarium, verified that the new shark pup was not produced through any type of asexual reproduction like parthenogenesis, in which spontaneous fertilization takes place without the presence of a male.

Researchers have long believed that sharks have the ability to store sperm for long periods of time to delay fertilization for months after mating. In this case, the delay was for many years. With all the sharks in the tank being female, this new pup is a clear case for long-term sperm storage in the shark species.

But the study's lead researcher, Moisés A. Bernal, says there are many things yet to be known, including how the long-term sperm reproduction works in sharks.

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