The bloated body of an orca washed up dead Thursday on Vancouver Island in British Columbia has been confirmed as one of the endangered southern resident killer whales of Puget Sound.
The whale has been identified as an 18 year-old female member of the J pod known as j-32 or Rhapsody.
She was thought to have been pregnant at the end of the summer, according to the Orca Network and the Center for Whale Research.
A necropsy will be performed on her this weekend but right one no one knows what caused her death, or if she was pregnant when she died.
There are just 77 Puget Sound southern resident killer whales left. That’s below their number in 2005 when they were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, according to Howard Garrett of the Orca Network and the Center for Whale Research.
He said the loss of J32 marks the fourth death of a Southern Resident orca in 2014. The last surviving southern resident baby was born in August of 2012.