Orcas’ newest member of southern resident J Pod is female

May 31, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Researchers say the newest member of a group of endangered southern resident orcas is a female.

The Center for Whale Research says the southern residents’ population growth is largely limited by the number of reproductively aged females.

The Seattle Times reports that on May 26, the center encountered J pod during a photo-ID and aerial observation survey. During this encounter, the team captured photographs and videos of J59. From this, the team was able to determine that J59 is a female.

J59 was first spotted in March.

News of her birth was tempered by the loss of two other pregnancies in southern resident families. The endangered whales’ population is now 74.

The southern residents face at least three main threats to their survival: Underwater noise, pollutants and lack of adequate Chinook salmon, their primary food source.