New Orca Calf spotted!

September 9, 2015

Growing Hope for the Future of Northwest Whales

By OutdoorsNW staff and Center for Whale Research

Photo at right: Courtesy of Center for Whale Research


There is a growing hope for the future of the Northwest’s Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population.

Spotted on the morning of Sept. 7, 2015, another baby was recently born to the L Pod. The adult mother, L91, was observed swimming with the new calf and photographed by team staffers and colleagues from the Center for Whale Research (CWR) located in Friday Harbor, Washington. The new calf is designated L122 and is the fifth to be born since December, 2014.

The SRKW is a large extended family made up of three pods, the J, K and L pods. Each pod is formed of matrilines, older female Orcas, who are the mothers and grandmothers of the pod members. Both male and female offspring remain in the pods they were born into, staying close to their mothers.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s the SRKW population quickly decreased due to the capture of 60 calves for the marine park industry. The population of the L, K and J pods did not recover especially since the captured calves either came of age to breed while in captivity or died.

The SRKW population has been acknowledged as endangered because of the low numbers of calves born in the past 40 years. The Orca Survey, a project of the CWR, has been conducting a photo-identification study of the SRKW population over the past four decades. According to their data the last recorded population boom was when nine calves were born in 1977. Unfortunately, calves born in 2013 and before December of 2014 did not survive.

The mother and baby shown in this photo, and other L pod Orcas, spent the afternoon and evening feeding in Haro Strait. The CWR staffers and colleagues witnessed an assemblage of whales from all three pods the morning of Sept. 7 that stretched over dozens of square miles in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait.

OutdoorsNW staff extends their well-wishes to the new calves born since December 2014! We, along with the team at CWR, hope that this recent “baby-boom” represents the beginning of a new generation of whales that helps repopulate the SRKW pods.

Read more information about Northwest Orcas: