Scientists spot 2nd baby orca in endangered pod in 2 months

AP News
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Posted: Feb 13, 2015 1:48 PM

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.

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Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/