Please welcome baby orca “L120” to the Puget Sound! This new calf is a welcome addition to our favorite orca whale population. A population that has, until this weekend, been shrinking. Dangerously.
Before this new baby, the Puget Sound orca population had dropped to a twenty-nine-year low of 78 whales. Few babies were being born—and none at all since 2012. Meanwhile, older whales continued to die off. Two died this year alone.
Now, fortunately, there’s one more.
Baby orca L120 joined the ranks of L pod sometime in early September, and last Saturday, a Pacific Whale Watch Association crew photographed the baby orca for the first time. Based on photos, the Center for Whale Research believes baby L120 is less than one week old!
But the Puget Sound orcas aren’t in clear water just yet—not by a long shot. “This is great news,” said the Pacific Whale Watch Association in a press release. “But every time a baby’s born, we’re careful not to pass out the cigars too soon. Infant mortality is really high among wild orcas, especially these Southern Residents.”
L120 will face a hard struggle to survive. 43 percent of Pacific Northwest orca calves die within six months of their birth. A new baby must overcome pollution, habitat disruption, disease, and countless other hazards caused by shipping, fishing, and military exercises. L120 is incredibly vulnerable, as is the entire Puget Sound orca population.
As animal lovers and environmental supporters, we’re worried about our whales. We’re celebrating this new calf (and hoping it gets a more personal name!), but we’re also rooting for the nonprofits working to save these whales. Thank you, Center for Whale Research, Orca Conservancy, Orca Network, Orca Relief, and all the other groups. We appreciate you and your work.
Every quarter, we donate to one nonprofit recommended by our clients and followers. If you want us to donate to an organization that helps L120 and the other Puget Sound orcas, please leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
To see L120 up close, check out the Orca Conservancy’s released photos!