Researchers have confirmed the birth of the 5th orca calf this year to be born to the Southern Resident population of orcas living off the north-west Pacific coast.
A team from the Center for Whale Research identified the calf, named L122, earlier this week. The calf was swimming with its mother, a 20-year-old orca known as L91 who is a member of the L Pod. It brings the total population up to 82 individuals (27 in the J Pod, 19 in the K Pod and 36 now in the L Pod).
The Southern Resident orcas are recognised as endangered by US law. Their numbers were severely depleted in the 1960s and 70s after many whales from the population were taken into captivity by marine parks such as SeaWorld or died during the capture process. Only one whale, Lolita, still survives. She is held alone at the Miami Seaquarium.
A Southern Resident orca.