New photos of orca calf emerge after rare survey of Southern Resident killer whales
WATCH: Over the past couple of months, there’s been a sort of population boom among resident killer whales. Linda Aylesworth explains why that could give us a much better understanding of the endangered animals.
More photos of a new killer whale calf born into the L-pod of endangered Southern Resident orcas are emerging after researchers with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spent the past three weeks tracking the whales off the Washington and Oregon coast.
The calf named L-121 is the third baby born to resident pods in recent months.
“That was the highlight for us. I had not expected to see that,” says Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with Northwest Fisheries Science Centre. “L-pods, in particular, had some reproductive success problems. There was a calf that was born last summer, but only survived a month.”
Hanson says L-121 looks very vibrant, which is very encouraging for the population, especially after the death of a pregnant orca off Vancouver Island in December.
Winter conditions often make the whales difficult to monitor during winter, but researchers were able to track the whales consistently this time around. Scientists managed to tag some whales, as well as collect prey and fecal samples to learn about how the whales are using that part of their habitat during winter.
PHOTO GALLERY: New images of L-121 calf captured by NOAA researchers