SEATTLE-- Orca experts with the Center for Whale Research spotted a very young calf cruising along in its mama's slip stream near Pender Island in British Columbia on Tuesday.
Ken Balcomb, the head of the Center for Whale Research, believes the calf was no more than a day or two old when he spotted it, and he couldn't say what sex it is. The baby pictures, however, are priceless. Check out a full slide show at the Center for Whale Research.
The calf's mother is 42-year-old J16, or "Slick." She's the oldest Southern Resident Orca to reproduce in four decades of monitoring the endangered population and was not expected to be carrying a calf due to her advanced age. J16 has produced offspring before though, which is a good indicator for the survival of her new calf, experts say.
Reproductive success in this population is extremely low. No calves have survived in the past 2 and a 1/2 years, which experts believe is due to declines in chinook salmon (the Southern Resident Orcas preferred food) and exposure to pollution.