MONTEREY BAY, Calif. -- Good news for our endangered southern resident orcas! L124, or "Lucky," the calf born in late December, was captured on video swimming with the L pod off the coast of California.
Ken Balcomb of Center for Whale Research was able to positively ID the calf with a photo that Monterey Bay Whale Watch's Nancy Black sent him. It's the first visual confirmation that Lucky is still alive since January.
Balcomb told Q13 that some of these whales were spotted all the way up in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia, a month ago. They sure do travel far!
Black, with Montery Bay Whale Watch, told Q13 it's the first confirmed sighting of southern residents in Monterey Bay since 2011.
Black said by all accounts, it looked like a healthy calf! Researchers said the pod is likely taking advantage of a thriving salmon population off the California coast.
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.