Submitted by Center for Whale Research
On Jan. 10, 2019, TV stations in Seattle aired live aerial footage of several groups of killer whales in Puget Sound near Seattle, and discerning viewers were able to see a very small whale among them. Center for Whale researcher Melisa Pinnow was able to see that L pod individuals were in one of the groups with a new baby. It was associated with a female, L77. The whales were still in Puget Sound by nightfall. At 5:45 a.m., Jan. 11 they were heard on the Center for Whale Research sponsored hydrophone at Bush Point in Admiralty Inlet. Staff dispatched a research team from San Juan Island, and they encountered the whales exiting Admiralty Inlet at 9:50 a.m. with their new baby. The mother is L77, a 31-year old mother of two known calves. Her first known calf was born in 2010 and died the same year, and her second known calf is L119, a female born in 2012. The new calf with her will be designated L124, and the sex is unknown at this time.
Approximately 40 percent of newborn calves do not survive their first few years, but staff hopes that this one makes it to maturity, especially if it is female. The Southern resident killer whale population is now 75.