An orca calf birth in the British Columbian Salish Sea gives hope to what has become a declining species underwater.
The calf, named L120, was born to L86, 23-year-old whale , and makes the second one born to L86 so far. Researchers say that L86 had a “baby bump” this summer, and that the new orca birth, while exciting, requires a cautious optimism: “I remember someone saw a shot of L86 breaching back in June and word got out that she had a little ‘baby bump.’ This is great news. But every time a baby’s born, we’re careful not to past the cigars too soon. Infant mortality is really high among wild orcas, especially these Southern Residents. This little whale has a tough road ahead. Every birth is exciting, but we’ll be especially thrilled and relieved to see L120 rolling back into the Sound & Straits next summer,” said PWWA Executive Director Michael Harris.
Orca whales in the Salish Sea had just declined to 78, so the new birth (the first since 2012) gives hope to the orca’s declining numbers. Many believe that the orca’s impending extinction is due to the decline in the orca’s favorite delicacy, wild Chinook salmon. While orca numbers are in decline in the South, Northern British Columbia is seeing a rise in its orca numbers.
Orcas, known as killer whales or “grampus” (an extinct name that is no longer used) have an expansive diet and thrive in all oceans, regardless of temperature. Some have declined to use the name “killer whale” because it gives a negative view of the animal who doesn’t pose much threat to humans.