Newborn killer whale a good sign for imperiled pod

A new baby orca whale swims alongside its mother near Vancouver Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Dec. 30. The newborn is being called J-50. With the new addition, there are now 78 of the endangered whales in the waters of British Columbia and Washington state.

SEATTLE (AP) — A newborn orca has been spotted in the endangered pod that frequents Puget Sound in Washington state, a good sign after the death of a pregnant killer whale from the same group earlier this month.

The baby orca was discovered Tuesday by Center for Whale Research scientist Ken Balcomb and another scientist monitoring members of J-pod off the Canadian Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

Balcomb says the presumed mother is J-16, a 43-year-old that has had three surviving calves. The baby killer whale is estimated to be a day or two old and appeared healthy. It’s been designated J-50.

Howard Garrett of the Orca Network says the birth is encouraging after the loss of the breeding female and its fetus.

The baby brings the Puget Sound orca population to 78.

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