Researcher: Calf born to endangered Pacific Northwest orcas

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 14, 2019

Researchers confirmed the birth the next day, dispatching a team from San Juan Island that encountered the whales as they exited Admiralty Inlet with the calf.

A female born to L77 in 2012 and now known as L119 did survive, in keeping with the survival rate for baby orcas, which is only about 50 per cent.

Balcomb guessed the calf was a few weeks old.

Researchers are working to determine the sex of the young whale.

L124 is the third calf born to a 31-year-old orca known as L77, though her first calf, born in 2010, did not survive its first year.

Researchers have identified a new calf swimming beside the whale known as L-77, which had been pregnant.

"We're trying to let the joy in and have the hope that this one will make it", Berta said.

The southern residents have not successfully reproduced in three years. The lifetime buildup of toxics is mostly offloaded into their firstborns.

That said, if it survives, this new calf marks a huge step forward for the region's struggling orca population.

In a photo provided to Postmedia, L124 can be seen following L25, the oldest living member of her pod.

The sighting follows ominous news about the West Coast's southern resident killer whale population in recent weeks.

The whales have been starving amid a dearth of salmon.

"Generally speaking, the winters can be very rough-meaning not a lot of prey available", Giles said.

K and L Pod southern resident killer whales were swimming near Vashon Island in Puget Island on Thursday when a KING 5 helicopter was used to capture footage of the calf yet.

"The whales were rolling all over each other, spyhopping, breaching and just in close physical contact with each other".

Last month Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans to help the population recover - including $1.1 billion in spending and a partial whale-watching ban. There are two other pregnant whales in K Pod and J Pod.

Orcas carry their babies for 17 months before giving birth.

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