Dead newborn orca calf found on Vancouver Island earlier this month a transient killer whale

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NOOTKA ISLAND, B.C. -- A dead newborn orca calf washed up on the shores of Nootka Island off Vancouver Island earlier this month, the same day the final recommendations from the Orca Task Force came out.

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans performed a necropsy to determine cause of death and also its ecotype, whether it's a southern resident, transient or other type of orca.

On Wednesday, DOF confirmed the whale was a transient killer whale calf. It was born alive, and likely died three to five days after it was born. The cause of death could have been a variety of things, DOF said, including maternal separation and "failure to thrive."

The transient killer whale is a different breed of whale than the Southern resident orcas that reside in the Salish Sea and the Puget Sound.

Southern resident killer whales' numbers are the lowest they've been in more than three decades, with only 74 left in the Puget Sound. Lead researchers say there are only about five years left until the current southern residents lose their reproductive abilities.

The group tasked with saving the population handed its recommendations to the governor earlier this month.

The plan consists of 36 recommendations - decided after months of debate and compromise - that may represent the best hope of ensuring one of the state's most iconic species survives. Read more about them here.

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