A Seventh Baby Is Born to the World’s Most Endangered Killer Whales

The seventh newborn in 12 months among the world’s most endangered killer whales has been confirmed.

On Friday, watchers from the Friday Harbor, Washington–based Center for Whale Research snapped photos of the calf as it swam with its mother.

The images allowed them to confirm that the youngster, first sighted in early November, is the latest addition to the Southern Resident killer whales. Three pods of the killer whales live year-round off the southern Pacific Northwest coast.

The calf has been tagged L123. According to the center, it is the first known offspring of its 12-year-old mother, L103. The sex of the newborn was not confirmed.

Baby orca L123 swimming with its mother, L103. (Photo: Mark Malleson/Courtesy Center for Whale Research)

It has been an upbeat year for the Southern Residents, thanks to the string of new births, including J51 in FebruaryJ52 in March, and L122 in September.

Hello, World! Baby Orca Surfaces, Joining Endangered Pod

The whales’ numbers dropped to around 77 individuals by the end of the 2013–14 breeding season, a year in which no newborns survived.

The overall Southern Resident population has diminished by about 20 percent since the 1990s. While pollution and habitat disruption have played a part, the most serious problem facing the whales is that their preferred prey, the Chinook salmon, is also an endangered species.

This situation has led to cautious optimism among the people who study and advocate for these whales. “While a new calf born to this struggling population is certainly cause to celebrate,” the Center for Whale Research said in a statement, “we continue to emphasize the need to focus on wild Chinook salmon restoration efforts. Especially the removal of obsolete dams that block wild salmon from their natal spawning habitat, such as those on the lower Snake River.”

This article was originally published on TakePart


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Leaderboard

1
+363sc earned social capital
2
+139sc earned social capital
3
+136sc earned social capital
4
+114sc earned social capital
5
+112sc earned social capital
6
+109sc earned social capital
7
+98sc earned social capital
8
+94sc earned social capital
9
+90sc earned social capital
10
+88sc earned social capital
11
+84sc earned social capital
12
+82sc earned social capital
13
+80sc earned social capital
14
+79sc earned social capital
15
+78sc earned social capital
16
+73sc earned social capital
17
+72sc earned social capital
18
+72sc earned social capital
19
+72sc earned social capital
20
+72sc earned social capital