Seven-week-old Orca calf in Puget Sound has died

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 7.51.13 PM

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 7.52.19 PMSeven-week-old Orca L120 has died, the Orca Conversancy said in a press release.

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 7.52.09 PMThe calf was born to L86 in September. L86 was seen Friday, Saturday and Monday without L120, according to Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research.

L120 apparently died while its pod was in the open ocean off Washington or British Columbia, the Center for Whale Research said.

The pod was offshore for a week to 10 days, and the orca designated L-120 might have been lost in a storm in the middle of last week, Balcomb said.

The calf’s birth was heralded in September, as the South Resident population has dropped to 78, the lowest count in more than a decade.

The Puget Sound killer whales primarily eat fish, rather than other marine mammals. Offspring tend to stay with their mothers for life.

Fish runs are much stronger in Hood Canal than they were 30 years ago, Orca Conservancy said, but the South Resident Killer Whales haven’t rediscovered it since restoration.

When food is hard to find, it’s hard for lactating females to produce enough milk to support a calf, according to Orca Conservancy.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

About orcaconservancy

Orca Conservancy is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working on behalf of orcinus orca, the killer whale, and protecting the wild places on which it depends. Successful Petitioner and Litigant in historic U.S. District Court case to list Southern Resident orcas as "Endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act -- the first-ever federal protection for the population. Leader in the Springer Project, the first-ever successful translocation and reintroduction of a wild killer whale, a rescue that captured the attention of the world.
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