Baby Boom: Third Orca Calf In 3 Months Born To Endangered Population
One of the world's most endangered groups of orca whales is experiencing something unexpected: a baby boom.
Researchers at the Center for Whale Research in Washington State's San Juan Islands announced the youngest of three new calves on Wednesday, posting a photo of the baby to Facebook.
Reportedly first spotted by NOAA scientist Brad Hanson, the calf appears to be a member of the L pod, a group belonging to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population. The center reports that the young whale is the offspring of a female named Calypso, known to researchers as L94. She's about 20 years old and mother to another calf, who's female. From the Center for Whale Research's Facebook page:
Fortunately the whales were very grouped up and within a few minutes we observed the new calf - with its unique orangish color on the white areas. The calf looked very energetic.
It's great news for the population, which is facing severe threats from both a lack of its major food source, Chinook salmon, and toxic contamination in the water. The calf brings the population's number up to 80.
Earlier this month, a 1-week-old calf, J51, was spotted among the members of the J pod alongside the baby's presumed mother, a 36-year old whale known as Shachi, or J19.