Dead baby orca washes up off Vancouver Island

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SEATTLE (AP) — An official with the Canadian government says a baby orca that washed up dead off Vancouver Island last week had an infection but an exam didn’t reveal an obvious cause of death.

Marine mammal coordinator Paul Cottrell with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says a surfer discovered the 340-pound female calf on Dec. 23 near Barkley Sound. A necropsy was performed two days later.

Cottrell says scientists won’t know what population the whale belonged to until they get DNA test results.

A research associate with the Center for Whale Research, Dave Ellifrit, says that based on one photograph he reviewed, it doesn’t appear that the dead orca belongs to the endangered whales that spend time in Washington state waters.

The closely watched Puget Sound orcas have experienced a baby boom with eight new calves born in the past year.

Cottrell says tests on tissue samples could provide more answers about why the calf died.

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