Months-old orca calf spotted off Vancouver Island, confirmed to be female
A young southern resident killer whale calf was recently photographed swimming in the waters off Vancouver Island, allowing researchers to identify the young orca as female.
The roughly six-month-old calf, dubbed L125, was spotted in the Swiftsure Bank area just west of Port Renfrew.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) says it was able to identify L125 as female, which is promising news for the matriarchal species, which needs more females to assist with population growth.
L125 was born in B.C. waters in February. In a rare occurrence, three separate orca pods gathered in the waters of the Haro Strait seemingly to meet the new calf.
"It's interesting that all three pods got together at the time of this birth, as happened (on) September 5, 2020, when J35 Tahlequah gave birth to J57 and K and L pods came in from the Pacific to join J pod," wrote the Orca Network back in February.
The DFO says that L125 was seen swimming near an "interim sanctuary zone" at Swiftsure Bank. Interim sanctuary zones are seasonal areas that are closed to boat traffic so that orcas can safely forage for food with reduced underwater noise pollution.
Southern resident killer whales are an endangered species, largely due to reduced chinook salmon prey and dangers posed by boats, according to the DFO.
The Centre for Whale Research estimates that there are roughly 74 southern resident killer whales left, though some researchers say the small population is in the best condition it has been in roughly a decade.