VICTORIA -- A southern resident killer whale is missing and feared dead by experts after he was not spotted with his family.

The Washington-based Center for Whale Research says their staff were out in Snug Harbor on the Haro Strait at about 1:40 p.m. on Friday when they spotted some orcas.

Researcher Dave Ellifrit said in a report posted online this was their first encounter with the L12 whales in inshore waters in more than a year.

“It is unclear whether the L12s had snuck in and headed north before heading south again in Haro Strait or if they had gone all the way around Vancouver Island and come down from the north,” said Ellifrit.

Southern resident orca L41 was not seen during the encounter with the nine other whales.

“Given his age and that he looked a little thin in our January 2019 encounter, we fear he may be gone and will consider him missing unless he shows up unexpectedly in an upcoming encounter,” said Ellifrit.

Researcher and photographer Mark Malleson tells CTV News Vancouver Island that he last saw L41 off Port Renfrew on August 11, 2019. 

“That’s the last record we have of him alive,” said Malleson.

L41, also known as Mega, is one of the most iconic whales in the southern resident population. He was born in 1977 and is known for his large size.