Puget Sound orca pod gains a new member

If the calf survives, it’ll be the first addition in three years.

 

31-year-old L77 seen with her newborn calf, L124, near Seattle on Jan. 11.
Center for Whale Research

BACKSTORY

Washington’s Puget Sound hosts three pods of southern resident orcas, and half a million people come to view them each year. Their population has declined over the past two decades; in 2005, they were listed as endangered. Biologists cite a lack of salmon, their main food source, as the main culprit, but whale-watching boats contribute by stressing the whales (“Are whale watchers taking a toll on Puget Sound’s orcas?HCN, 4/17/13).

FOLLOWUP

In early January, whale watchers and biologists rejoiced in the birth of a new orca calf. If the calf survives past its first year, it will be the first to do so in the last three years. Last summer, a female orca carried its dead calf around the sound for 17 days. Researchers hope the new arrival is a female who can add to the sound’s orca population, now at 75. Ken Balcomb, director of the Center for Whale Research, told the Seattle Times that the birth is “great news.”

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