First Orca Calf Born Since 2012

First Orca Calf Born Since 2012

Birth of an orca calf in the Salish Sea has left the Center for Whale Research elated as it is the first since 2012. The mother of the calf is 23-year-old L86 and it is her second calf. The newborn, designated L120, holds significant importance for the Southern Resident Community population given the fact that their numbers have dwindled to 78, the lowest in more than a decade.

"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", said Capt. Jim Maya of Maya's Westside Whale Charters in San Juan Island.

In contrast to low orca numbers in the South, the Northern Resident Community of British Columbia has seen a rise in its orca numbers. Marine animals that feed on orcas have also grown in the Sound and Straits, said Michael Harris, Executive Director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, in a press release.

The Southern area orcas have not been able to do well, which researchers say is because of lack of prey, especially wild Chinook salmons that Orcas love to feed on.

The Center for Whale Research was waiting for a newborn for the Southern Resident Community since 2012. Newborn orcas are expected in Southern Resident Community as the number of whales has decreased there. However, infant mortality rate is higher there, so it cannot be assured if a baby would make it for long.

Orcas are known as killer whales or grampus and wild Chinook salmon is their favorite delicacy. Orcas thrive in all oceans regardless of temperature, but lack of prey has significantly contributed to their decline.

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