"There was a baby born on September 6, but it did not last more than a month," says Garrett. "And then there was one that was not quite born, and the mother also died. She was a 19-year-old, and she washed up dead with a full term fetus in early December. That was a big loss."
Those deaths reduced the orcas' numbers to just 77, down from around 200 in the 1800s. Thankfully, that number has risen once again, and researchers are hoping it will keep growing higher - but there's no guarantee.
The main contributor to the Southern Resident killer whales' decline is a lack of sufficient Chinook salmon, the pod's primary prey. Populations of Chinook are endangered from California to Alaska due to various human-induced and natural factors, leading to nutritional stress among orcas which limits their ability to reproduce.
Even with that aside, the first year of life is the most precarious for a young killer whale, says Garrett, but he's cautiously optimistic that the newborn will pull through - especially since it means so much in light of recent setbacks.