Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Babies

After losing 7 members last year, the local orca pods have two new babies this spring. One was born to J Pod, the other to L Pod and they bring the population of the endangered local resident group to 85. However, one adult male, 31 year-old L57, hasn't been spotted yet this year and is missing.
The new orca calves were first spotted off Victoria on February 6, then off Nanaimo a few days later, and were probably born sometime in January. It's unusual for the resident pods to be in the local waters at this time of year. Also unusual is that all three pods J, K and L are wintering together.  Usually they winter independently off California, so their early return suggests to some researchers that they are following a food source, probably chinook salmon. Salmon stocks are dropping, raising fears that the local resident orcas, already endangered, could be facing starvation.

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