FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. (AP) — A scientist who tracks a group of endangered killer whales that frequents Puget Sound says he's spotted a second baby born to the pod in the past two months.
Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research confirmed the newborn orca in J-pod after it was spotted Thursday, the Kitsap Sun reported (http://is.gd/IkblBv ).
He said the week-old calf, whose gender isn't yet known, appears healthy and is dubbed J-51.
"It's a good one," Balcomb said.
The presumed mother is 36-year-old J-19.
Balcomb said two whales were seen swimming protectively alongside the baby.
The addition joins J-50, a baby spotted in late December. The two bring Puget Sound's southern resident orca population to 79, which is still dangerously low.
A 19-year-old female from J-pod died in early December.
The southern resident orcas spend a lot of time in the Puget Sound and off the coast of British Columbia. They depend on salmon for food, while the ocean-roaming transient orcas hunt marine mammals such as seals.
Scientists say the southern resident orcas suffer from malnutrition and chemical contamination from polluted waters.
Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/