Researchers say there’s a new calf among the population of critically endangered killer whales that live in the waters between Washington state and Canada.
Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, told The Seattle Times that staff first saw the calf Friday at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
He said the youngster looks healthy, but survival rates for baby orcas are only about 50 percent.
The whales have been starving amid a dearth of salmon. Vessel noise and pollution have complicated their plight. No calf born in the last three years has survived.
One whale drew international attention when she carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days last summer.
Two other orcas are known to be sick, and researchers fear they could die within months.