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Photo by Centre for Whale Research

Fifth orca calf born off the coast of Vancouver Island this year

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It’s baby season for the Southern Resident Killer Whales of British Columbia.

A newborn calf was spotted with its mother off the coast of Vancouver Island earlier this week. In total, there have been five new births in the area since last December. The most recorded births in one year were nine in 1977.

The baby calf has been named L-122, as it’s part of the L pod, one of the three groups that makes up the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population. There are now 81 whales in the SRKW.

In a statement, the Centre for Whale Research said, “the mother and baby and other L pod whales spent the afternoon and evening in Haro Strait ‘fishing,’ and were joined by J and K pod members in an assemblage that stretched over dozens of square miles.”

The Centre for Whale Research hopes the five new births signifies a boom in the local orca population. Southern Resident Killer Whales have been listed as endangered species in Canada since 2001.

“We hope this year’s ‘baby-boom’ represents a turn-around in what has been a negative population trend in recent years,” the Centre stated.

There are several threats facing the Southern Resident Killer Whales, including reduced quantity and quality of prey, harmful biochemicals that pollute the water, sound disturbances from vessel traffic, and potential oil spills.

Earlier this summer, a new transient orca calf was seen off of Vancouver Island near Tofino. It was the first transient calf born in the area since 2013.