Federal biologists used drones to track three endangered orca pods recently, taking thousands of pictures. Some of the orcas appear to be pregnant, and the Center for Whale Research confirmed Saturday that a new orca calf had been spotted in one of the pods.
This is great news for conservationists, as the three southern resident orca pods -- found between Washington state and Alaska -- are listed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s endangered species list.
The new baby orca was documented in the J Pod and has been designated J-53. It is the sixth orca calf born in the three pods since December last year, bringing their total number to 82.
Another calf was announced Sept. 7 in the L Pod after being spotted in Sooke, British Columbia.
The whale watch community is supposedly referring to the births as the Class of 2015, according to Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association. This follows three years without a successful birth in any of the pods.