The Center for Whale Research in Washington state said Wednesday it was “thrilled” to confirm a new baby orca born to L pod, one of three family groups that make up the West Coast’s endangered southern resident killer whale population.
The research centre’s identification expert, Dave Ellifrit, captured images of the baby orca that show fetal folds, indicating a recent birth.
The baby orca — identified as L125 — appears healthy, according to the research centre.
A team was dispatched on two boats to Haro Strait, located between Vancouver Island and Washington’s San Juan Islands, when researchers learned the endangered killer whales were in the area.
The whales have been the focus of recovery efforts and research off the West Coast for years.
Ellifrit said the new member of L pod appears to be healthy.
“It is nicely filled out and appears to be a perfectly normal little calf,” he said.
This is the fourth calf born to L86, however, two have died.
In J pod, one of the other family groups of southern resident killer whales, two calves have been born in the past year, which researchers say are doing well.