SALISH SEA, Wash. - A new baby orca was born in the Salish Sea, said officials with the Center for Whale Research.
The birth is the first one since 2012 for the L pod, the group of orcas in the endangered Southern Resident Community.
The mother is 23-year-old L86 and this is her second calf. The newborn has been designated L120.
“I remember someone saw a shot of L86 breaching back in June and word got out that she had a little ‘baby bump,’” explains Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacifc Whale Watch Association. “This is great news. But every time a baby’s born, we’re careful not to pass out the cigars too soon. Infant mortality is really high among wild orcas, especially these Southern Residents. This little whale has a tough road ahead. Every birth is exciting, but we’ll be especially thrilled and relieved to see L120 rolling back into the Sound and Straits next summer.”
“We wouldn’t have known about it, but heard from David Elifritt out on the water that L86 had a new calf, and then ran into them,” explained Capt. Jim Maya of Maya’s Westside Whale Charters on San Juan Island. “What a thrill to be there at the right time in the right place. Everyone on board was so excited. I’ve never seen a calf born, but it’s always a thrill to be there the day a new calf was discovered.”