Second orca calf born to endangered J pod in 2 months

Photo: Center for Whale Research
Photo: Center for Whale Research


By Associated Press


FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. (AP) – A scientist who tracks a group of endangered killer whales that frequents Puget Sound says he’s spotted a second baby born to the pod in the past two months.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research confirmed the newborn orca in J-pod after it was spotted Thursday, the Kitsap Sun reported.

He said the week-old calf, whose gender isn’t yet known, appears healthy and is dubbed J-51.

“It’s a good one,” Balcomb said.

The presumed mother is 36-year-old J-19.

Balcomb said two whales were seen swimming protectively alongside the baby.

The addition joins J-50, a baby spotted in late December. The two bring Puget Sound’s southern resident orca population to 79, which is still dangerously low.

A 19-year-old female from J-pod died in early December.

The southern resident orcas spend a lot of time in the Puget Sound and off the coast of British Columbia. They depend on salmon for food, while the ocean-roaming transient orcas hunt marine mammals such as seals.

Scientists say the southern resident orcas suffer from malnutrition and chemical contamination from polluted waters.