Beloved orca calf, once thought dead, resurfaces

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Courtesy of Kaegan Shepherd, Naturalist, Five Star Whale Watching, Victoria, BC

SEATTLE – Pacific Whale Watch Association crews spot a baby orca once thought to be dead.

L119 was first discovered May 29, 2012 and documented the next day. She had been seen and photographed for the next three months, until one day she was gone. She was thought to be another victim of the high infant mortality rate. Up to 40% of calves don’t survive the first year. Adding to the heartbreak, it would have been the second calf death for her mother, L77.

Then on June 17 off of Cattle Point, on San Juan Island, she reemerged. Whale watchers and researchers alike are thrilled by her reappearance.

“Our passengers were already having an amazing experience out there, seeing L-Pod come back in,” Marine Naturalist/Manager Andrew Lees of Five Star Whale said. “And once we told them L119’s story, how we all thought she was gone, it just made it that much more special for everyone.”

Unfortunately, two other members of the L-Pod remain unaccounted for. Crews have not yet seen 53-year-old L2 or 57-year-old L26. Researchers say they normally get a good read on a pod’s condition this time of year, when the whales return to the Sound and the Straits.

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