PORT GAMBLE, Wash. -- Photos and video of the endangered southern resident orca population's newest member were released late last week, showing the newborn calf "bouncing around" in good health.
The Center for Whale Research released the first pictures of the orca calf - known as L124.
"All of L pod was accounted for and L77's new calf, L124, was confirmed at 0950," Center for Whale Research observers said. "The calf appeared to be about 3 weeks old and was bouncing around between L25, L41, L77, L85 and L119."
Observers said the new calf "kept up well" with the rest of the L pod. The calf's gender is not yet known. Center for Whale Research Founder Ken Balcomb said he's taken to calling the new calf "Lucky."
About 40 percent of newborn calves do not survive their first few years, Baclomb said. But they hope this one makes it to maturity.
Southern resident killer whales' numbers are the lowest they've been in more than three decades. Lead researchers say there are only about five years left until the current southern residents lose their reproductive abilities.
The resident orcas have struggled as salmon numbers drop, and the Puget Sound becomes increasingly crowded with vessels.