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New orca born to K pod family of southern residents

Associated Press
In this photo provided by the Center for Whale Research, K-44, right, a newborn male orca whale, is shown swimming with his mother, K-27, near Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands on July 6, 2011.

SEATTLE (AP) — A calf has been born into the K pod family of southern resident orcas, the first in 11 years.

Deborah Giles, science and research director for the nonprofit Wild Orca, confirmed the birth this week, The Seattle Times reported. Giles said the baby was born to K20, a female also known as Spock.

Giles says the new orca was first spotted by a person fishing off the Oregon coast on April 28. The baby’s sex is not known.

“For it to be a female would be ideal,” she said. “But anybody in K pod is just so special and hopeful.”

Recent births among the southern residents have skewed heavily male.

Both K and L pods have been seen recently off the Oregon coast.

This is the second birth to the southern residents this year. J pod saw the birth of J59 this winter.

With the newest birth, the population of endangered southern residents is now 75 — if an L pod whale that so far has not been seen this year, L89, turns up.

The southern residents are struggling to survive several threats including lack of adequate Chinook salmon in their foraging range, pollution and underwater noise that makes it harder for them to hunt.

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