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.