Two families of Puget Sound killer whales have welcomed newborns. Mark Sears, a Seattle-based orca researcher, said he saw each calf Wednesday in Colvos Passage, between Vashon...
BREMERTON — Two families of Puget Sound killer whales have welcomed newborns.
Mark Sears, a Seattle-based orca researcher, said he saw each calf Wednesday in Colvos Passage, between Vashon Island, southwest of Seattle, and the shores of southern Kitsap County.
“They are pretty glued to their mothers right now,” Sears told The (Bremerton) Sun.
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Sears said the calf that joined the K pod was born late Tuesday or early Wednesday, while the calf swimming with the J pod was born outside Puget Sound sometime in the past three weeks.
“Both of the calves are getting a lot of attention, surrounded by juveniles and other females,” Sears said.
One mother is J-14, a 30-year-old female known as Samish, who is a granddaughter and great-niece of two of the oldest members of the Puget Sound pods. This is her third calf.
The other mother is K-20, an 18-year-old female known as Spock, who was believed for many years to be a male because of her large dorsal fin. This is her first calf.
The newborns have not yet been confirmed by the Friday Harbor-based Center for Whale Research, which maintains the identifications for the Puget Sound whales.
Because of the large number of chum salmon in central and southern Puget Sound, the whales are not locked into their typical traveling or feeding patterns right now, Sears said.
Two other baby orcas were born to L pod in October. That group has not been seen lately and may be gone from Puget Sound for winter travels up and down the coast.
Counting all four newborns and the presumed death of a 55-year-old K-pod orca that was not seen this year, the population of the Puget Sound’s three orca families now stands at 87. That total does not include Luna, L-98, who is living alone in Nootka Sound in Canada, or Lolita, who is in a Miami aquarium.
Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed that the three pods be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act because the population dropped by 20 percent between 1995 and 2001.