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New baby orca spotted in Strait of Juan de Fuca (PHOTOS)

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SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. — A newborn baby orca was sighted among the L Pod in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Salmon Bank, the Center for Whale Research announced.

“Tucked between two adult females in L pod was a very small newborn killer whale that still had creases on its side due to ‘fetal folds’, indicating it was probably less than one week old,” the center said.

The  baby’s  dorsal  fin  was  upright and not folded over, meaning it  was  probably  more  than  one  day  old, the center said, adding whale researchers were estimating its birthday in early September.

The  adult  female  whales  accompanying  the  new  baby  were  L27  (age  about 50)  and  L86  (age  23),  with  the  latter  being  the  presumed  mother due  to  her  younger  age  and  reproductive  history, the center said.

“The  older  female,  L27,  had  produced  four  known  babies  during  the  course  of  our  studies,  none  of  which  have  survived.  Her  most  recent  known  baby  was  born  in  1995  and  it  survived  until  1998.  The  cause  of  death  for  the  babies  is  unknown,  and  L27  has  presumably  reached  menopause  that occurs  around  age  40  in  killer  whales,” the center said.

“The  presumed  mother,  L86, has  given  birth  to  two  known  offspring  — a  male  (L106)  born  in  2005,  and  a  female  (L112)  born  in  2009. The male is still alive.  The 3-year-old female orca was killed by “unknown blunt force trauma” with no evidence of a ship strike during a military sonar and explosive detonation exercise in the Juan de Fuca on Feb. 2012, the center said.

 

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