A pod of endangered killer whales that swims off the coast of Washington state welcomed its first newborn in more than two years.
On Dec. 30, Ken Balcomb, a scientist at the Center for Whale Research, noticed the newborn orca while monitoring a pod, dubbed J-pod, which hangs around Puget Sound, a large Pacific Ocean inlet. The baby killer whale is likely about seven or eight days old now.
The whale’s birth is encouraging news for the pod, which lost a pregnant female earlier in December. The 19-year-old female whale named J-32 died somewhere in the Strait of Georgia before scientists hauled her ashore to perform a necropsy. Balcomb and others determined that the whale’s fetus had died and a resulting bacterial infection killed the mother.
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