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Southern resident orca pod falls to lowest number in 46 years

Isabella Breda, The Seattle Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

SEATTLE — Only 73 southern resident orcas that live along the coast of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia remain as of July 1, according to the latest census from the Center for Whale Research.

In the last year, three whales died — K21, K44 and L89. Meanwhile, two calves were born in February and April.

The census found the L pod, currently sitting at 32 orcas, at its lowest point since the study began in 1976. The K pod and J pod sit at 16 and 25, respectively.

According to the center, K21 was last seen “severely emaciated” in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in July 2021. He was declared dead after he failed to appear alongside others he was social with.

 

K44 was alive as of this spring, but was not seen in subsequent encounters with his family. According to the center, the body of a juvenile killer whale with consistent markings was found entangled off the Oregon coast in late June. He has not been formally identified, the center reported.

L89 was not seen in 2022.

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