New Orca Baby Born to Southern Resident L Pod

Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times environment reporter

“A new baby has been born to the L pod family of southern resident killer whales, scientists reported.

“Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, confirmed the birth Wednesday.

“The mother is L86, and the sex of the baby, L125, is not yet known.

“After word that the J, K, and L pods were in Haro Strait, near San Juan Island, the center dispatched two boats with field researchers, where they encountered and photographed the new calf.

“It is nicely filled out and appears to be a nice young perfectly normal little calf,” said David Ellifrit, the center’s photo identification expert. 

“The baby’s size and shape are typical of a calf in good condition. It is so young — just a few weeks old — that it still has fetal folds showing on its skin.

“This is the first calf born into L pod since January 2019.

“Other calves born to the southern residents also were seen Wednesday: J57 and J58, both born in 2020, looked to be doing well.

“The birth is a bright spot for L86, who also was the mother of L112, killed by blunt-force trauma in 2012, Balcomb said.

“She had another calf, L120, that was born and died in 2014. Her first calf, L106 was born in 2005 and is still swimming near his mother today, Balcomb said.

“The southern residents are endangered, so every baby counts.

The newest birth brings the population to 75 in total in the wild. Lolita, also called Tokitae, is a southern resident orca believed to be a member of L pod, taken into captivity August 8, 1970, and still living at the Miami Seaquarium…”

Below is the URL for the Center for Whale Research which emails updates to the public and takes donation for research.

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