BRITISH COLUMBIA

Endangered Killer Whale Families Welcome 3rd Baby In Recent Months

02/26/2015 06:07 EST | Updated 02/26/2015 06:59 EST
AP/NOAA
In this Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) a new baby orca swims alongside an adult whale, believed to be its mother, about 15 miles off the coast of Westport, Wash. U.S. biologists following endangered killer whales from a research vessel spotted the newborn orca off the coast of Washington state on Wednesday with other whales in the “L” pod, one of three families of southern resident killer whales that frequent inland Washington waters. This is the third baby born to the whale pods in recent months, bringing the Puget Sound’s endangered population to 80, still dangerously low. (AP Photo/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Candice Emmons)

A third newborn orca has been spotted off the West Coast, which is encouraging news for the endangered southern resident killer whales.

The calf was observed with the L-pod near Westport off the coast of Washington state on Wednesday, said biologist Brad Hanson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The calf — with its "unique orangish color on the white areas" — looked very energetic, he added.

It's the third baby born to the whale pods in recent months. One was spotted in December — the first successful birth in about 2.5 years — and another earlier this month.

There are now 80 southern resident orcas in the waters of B.C. and Washington state.

"Despite this piece of very good news, conservation threats to southern resident killer whales have not disappeared," said Dr. Peter Ross, director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s ocean pollution research program. "It will take steady and patient work to mitigate and adopt best practices to address prey availability, noise or disturbance and pollution."

The southern residents spend most of the summer in the waters around southern Vancouver Island and northern Washington. They're listed as endangered in both Canada and the United States.

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