The Southern Residents began to make up the loss of the babies in the years after the captures, but experienced a second population drop when the stolen babies would have come of breeding age. The Southern Residents have faced a slew of new threats, in particular a series of dams cutting them off from Chinook salmon, their staple food. They're currently endangered.
Which makes this latest calf all the more exceptional. Yet even as researchers hope that the new birth could indicate a turning point for the struggling orca population, they warn that it also makes it more crucial than ever to address the threats facing the whale family.
The calf's mother, L103.Center for Whale Research