New orca calf spotted near British Columbia
There appears to be a new calf born to the endangered southern resident orcas in the Salish Sea.
The Center for Whale Research made the baby announcement Friday, saying it appears the L Pod of killer whales has a new calf. It has yet to confirm any further details.
The Center came across social media posts showing a calf with members of the L-77 matriline on Monday, June 19. They were spotted off Tofino, British Columbia.
If confirmed, this would be the first new calf in L pod since L125 was born in 2021, and it would bring the total population of southern resident killer whales to 74.
"CWR researchers will need to conduct on-the-water encounters with this group to determine who the calf’s mother is, assess its health, and assign it an alphanumeric designation. We hope to see this calf in our study area very soon!" the Center said in a statement.
"It's hard to say whose calf it is at this point, just being that it was based on a couple of photographs," said Josh McInnes, a scientist with the University of British Columbia's Marine Mammal Research Unit. "And often, it's usually greater than two or three encounters that we start classifying calves as being with a particular female."
McInnes studies killer whales up and down the West Coast and says that multiple females within a pod will take care of a calf.
McInnes notes southern resident pods are spending more time out on Pacific fishing banks, away from the Salish Sea, perhaps having to go further to try to find the salmon they need for food.