A pod of orcas that frequent the waters of the Puget Sound off the coast of Washington welcomed the birth of their first newborn in over two years. This particular pod (nicknamed J-pod) is considered endangered and suffered the loss of a pregnant female in December 2014.
Ken Balcom, a scientist at the Center for Whale Research first noticed the baby orca on December 30 when monitoring the pod. The newborn is thought to be seven or eight days old now. Although its birth is a good sign for the pod, NOAA estimates that 35–45 percent of baby orcas don’t survive their first year.
In the 1960s and 70s, over half of the J-pod population was taken by humans for captive display. The population rebounded in the 1990s, but then declined inexplicably by 20 percent in the early 2000s, leading scientists to declare it an endangered pod. Experts believe this decline could be due to a lack of sufficient Chinook salmon for the orcas to prey upon.
Read more about the newborn orca here.
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