Itâ€™s been a great year for the endangered orcas of the Pacific Northwest. Births from both the J and L pods that call the Puget Sound home have inspired hope in conservationists.
First, the calf J50 was spotted on December 30, 2014, probably having been born a few days prior.
Say hello to our little friend…newborn calf J50. pic.twitter.com/rFKbgtWL1D
â€” NOAA Fisheries NWFSC (@NOAAFish_NWFSC) January 13, 2015
On February 12, the Center for Whale Research reported sighting J51.
And on February 28, L Pod had their own new arrival in the form of L121.
â€” NOAA Fisheries NWFSC (@NOAAFish_NWFSC) February 26, 2015
But J Pod wasnâ€™t done! On March 30, 2015, the Pacific Whale Watch Association spotted J52, the fourth birth of the season.
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These four calves all appear to be healthy and energetic. Itâ€™s a banner year for the effort to protect the whales that call the waters of Puget Sound home, but marine biologists warn that life for these calves will be tough.
Despite this good news, the killer whales of Puget Sound are endangered and their population levels remain dangerously low. There is a 35% to 45% mortality rate among calves, meaning the next few months will be critical for the young orcasâ€™ survival.
Habitat destruction and prey scarcity are the main threats to these majestic animals. The orcaâ€™s preferred prey is the Chinook salmon, but the fish is increasingly rare due to fishing and destruction to salmon runs and traditional spawning grounds. The Port of Seattle recently leased Terminal 5 to Foss/Shell, allowing the oil company to use orca habitat as their home port. A lawsuit has been filed by a coalition of environmental groups against the port, arguing that the quality of the water would be negatively impacted by the vessels.
Orcas also face habitat destruction due to polluted runoff that makes its way into their habitat. But you can help. Our Gift That Gives More is dedicated to keeping toxic runoff out of the Puget Sound of Western Washington and helps preserve a delicate ecosystem for the wild orca that call it home.Whizzco