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L124 with L77 – Photo by Center for Whale Research

On January 10 2019 a new Orca calf was spotted swimming with Lpod one of our endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale Pods.  It was an exciting find and aerial footage from a King 5 helicopter gave researchers their first sighting of the calf swimming in the strait of Juan De Fuca.  This Orca is the third known calf to mother L77 aka Matia.  It has been designated L124 but its nickname is “Lucky”.

Researchers announced the birth of L124 on January 11th.  Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research said “The newest youngster looks healthy. Its sex is not yet known at this time, but researchers are hoping for a female, who could help replenish the southern resident killer whale population, which has dwindled to just 75.”

Here’s hoping that youngster “Lucky” truly does bring luck to this endangered species.  Ten years ago the Southern Resident Killer Whale population was sitting at the low number of 89 and we were worried then!  Now they have dwindled to a mere 75 members and they haven’t had a successful birth in three years.  If “Lucky” makes it through the first year and still looks healthy we can start to look on the positive side but for now we continue to hold our breath.

But the worry doesn’t end there.  Researchers are particularly concerned with two other members of the Southern Resident Community.  Aerial images of K25, a large male, shows he has lost a considerable amount of weight since an image taken of him in 2016.  See image below:

Also photos taken of J17 aka Princess Angeline on New Year’s Eve showed that the 42-year-old whale has what’s known as “peanut head.”  Peanut head indicates severe fat loss and malnutrition.  It basically means that the animal has lost so much weight that you can see it’s skull through it’s skin!  Grim, I know.  Researchers are less then confident about both of these Orca and fear they will lose both of them before this summer.

So for now we are all hoping that little L124 is the turning point for this endangered species.  If you would like to learn more about these whales check out our “About Whales” page on our website or head to our Facebook page to see aerial footage of the new little calf.

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