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It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Save the whale. Save the world.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
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Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
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Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...
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Meet the 2022 Interns: Saya Butani

I'm happy to welcome the newest member of the WDC team, Saya Butani, who is...
Block Island wind credit: Regina Asutis-Silvia

Offshore Wind: Don’t Blow It

Recently, new areas were added to the growing list of potential sites for offshore wind...
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Meet the 2022 Interns: Sierra Osborne

I'm delighted to introduce WDC's Conservation Education intern for Summer 2022, Sierra Osborne! Without hesitation,...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...

New Southern resident orca born!

The endangered population of orcas known as the Southern Residents were causing quite a stir in Washington State’s Puget Sound last week, with news helicopters broadcasting aerial images of the orcas.  A few eagle-eyed viewers noticed a particularly small orca swimming amongst the others, but blurry stills and screen-grabs from the news footage made it hard to know for sure if we were seeing a brand new calf. 

But just a glimpse was enough to stir everyone’s interest, and on Thursday night, the conversation to figure out what we were seeing was fast and furious – my phone was buzzing with messages.  After a particularly rough couple of years for the Southern Resident orca population, we were all desperate for some good news.

On Friday, the Center for Whale Research (CWR), which has maintained the Southern Resident census for over 40 years, confirmed that there was indeed a  brand new calf in the Southern Resident community!  Given the identification number L124, the new calf (sex unknown) was born to Matia (L77), a 31-year-old female in L pod.  CWR added that new baby L124 is Matia’s third known calf, looked healthy and energetic, and is believed to be several weeks old.  Finally, some good news!

The Southern Resident community has not had a surviving calf in more than three years, after the hopeful baby boom of a few years ago that started with the birth of Scarlet (J50) in December 2014.  Of the eight calves born who lived long enough to receive official designations from CWR, five are still alive today. 

Then, last autumn, three female orcas – one in each pod: J, K, and L – were observed by researchers to be pregnant and L124 is the first calf to be seen. This is such a welcome relief for all of us in the orca community and a piece of good news for the Southern Residents.  Even the orcas themselves seem to be celebrating, with members of all three pods seen socialising and in close contact with each other last Friday afternoon – a rare ‘superpod’ of Southern Residents.  

I’m thrilled and relieved by the news of a brand new calf.  L124 is an inspiration for me to keep up the hard work to ensure he or she has a safe and healthy home to grow up in – with clean and quiet waters and all the salmon they can dream of.  A few names have already been suggested for this newest Southern Resident orca, and while L124 won’t receive an official name until later this year, we like the idea of Promise – new calves indicate there is still promise for recovery in the population, and, with your support, we promise to do everything we can to help them get there.

Enjoy this video of the L pod of the Southern Residents, including L124.

Southern Resident video