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'Three cheers!' Endangered orcas, including new calf, spotted off Vancouver Island
A new orca calf, belonging to J31, was spotted with J, K and L pods off the west coast of Vancouver Island. (DFO Pacific)
Federal scientists are celebrating after all three pods of endangered southern resident killer whales were spotted off Vancouver Island.
Members of J, K and L pods were seen swimming along the west coast of the island last week, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said in a tweet.
A newborn calf belonging to J pod was also seen swimming with its mother, J31.
It is the second calf born to the endangered orca population this year, bringing their total numbers to 76.
Researchers previously voiced concern that the southern residents were not present in the Salish Sea, their usual summer feeding grounds.
Wild Orca science and research director Deborah Giles called it "unprecedented" and said dwindling chinook salmon populations may be to blame.
She said it's important endangered orcas gather in the Salish Sea because it's healthier for the population when breeding.
In April, Fisheries and Oceans Canada introduced tough new restrictions on chinook fishing in B.C. waters, closing recreational and commercial fishing areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Gulf Islands.