The newborn baby of a killer whale has been spotted by a scientist at the Center for Whale Research, off the Washington coast – the baby killer whale, or orca, has been discovered to be female – and the discovery was made by Ken Balcomb.
Orcas are predatory black and white whales with teeth and a large dorsal fin, and most common in cold seas. Balcomb had been observing the pod– a large group of aquatic mammals – in Puget Sound when he happened to sight the newborn baby killer whale – and it has been named J-50.
Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has expressed his joys about the birth of the baby killer whale, saying it signified a positive sign for the pod since the orca had been designated as endangered in the pods since 2005.
Although the scientist is not certain which whale is the calf’s mother, two female whales are presently in the pod – a 43-year old female called J-16 and a younger whale dubbed J-36. One pregnant female killer whale had lost her pregnancy this past December due to bacterial infection.
According to the NOAA, about 35-45% of newborn baby killer whales die off or are either killed by predators within their first year of existence, and then coupled with the fact that Chinook salmon which is the whales’ most vital food source has greatly declined – the population of J-pod has drastically reduced. Another reason for the sharp of decline killer whales at the J-pod is because they were hunted down and often exhibited at theme parks and aquariums in the late 60s and early 70s.
Scientists have expressed concern that observing the newborn orca would be pretty difficult because the pod enters into the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver.