A New Baby in L Pod

illustrator: Hilary Cole

The Center for Whale Research (CWR) is thrilled to confirm that a new calf, L125, has been born into the southern resident killer whale (SRKW) community.

Following word that J, K, and L pod were in Haro Strait, CWR dispatched two boats with field researchers to photo-identify the new calf and as many other SRKWs as possible for our annual population census. CWR’s photo-ID expert, Dave Ellifrit, captured images that show L125 with fetal folds, indicating a relatively recent birth. “It is nicely filled out and appears to be a perfectly normal little calf,” said Ellifrit. L125’s size and shape are typical of a calf in good physical condition.

The new calf’s mother is L86, her fourth offspring. Dr. John Durban and Dr. Holly Fernbach (SR3) captured drone photographs of L125 and, given its size, estimate it to be 1 – 1 1/2 months old. L125 has one living sibling, L106 (male), born in 2005.

L86 has given birth to two other calves: L112 and L120, both now deceased. L112 (born in 2009) was killed by blunt force trauma during military exercises in 2012. L120 was born and died in 2014. L125 is the first calf born into L pod since January 2019 when L77 gave birth to L124.

The last time the Center for Whale Research encountered southern resident orcas in the Salish Sea was January 20, 2021 (J and K pod). CWR’s most recent previous encounter with L pod was September 24, 2020. The other calves born into J pod in 2020, J57 and J58, were observed on Fev. 17 and looked to be doing well. For more information: info@whaleresearch.com.

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