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New orca calf born in May confirmed to be female

July 8, 2019

SEATTLE (AP) — Researchers have confirmed a new calf born to a pod of endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest is female.

Scientists believe the whale was born in late May. They have designated her J56.

She is the second calf born in the last five months to southern resident killer whales that frequent Puget Sound and other waters around Washington State and British Columbia.

In January, researchers identified another orca calf in the L pod, L124 or Lucky. That calf was last seen back in March and appeared to be in good health.

The births are welcome news for a southern resident population that dropped to more than a 30-year low last year. Declining prey, pollution and boat noise all threaten the whales.

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