“…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.
“It’s just wonderful to see a new birth this early in the year; it’s pretty exciting,” said Deborah Giles, researcher with the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology. “It gives you hope for the other ones.”
Another orca, J46, also known as Star, was very visibly pregnant last fall but she lost the calf, according to Holly Fearnbach, marine mammal research director at SR3, a science research nonprofit based in Seattle.
Fearnbach and John Durban, senior scientist with Southall Environment Associates, photographed her on multiple occasions using a drone and from their research documented that she was no longer pregnant in December…”