A new baby killer whale named L122 was spotted recently off the waters near Sooke with mother L91.

A new baby killer whale named L122 was spotted recently off the waters near Sooke with mother L91.

New calf joins Killer Whales J pod

Following a bountiful spring for the Southern Resident Killer Whales J pod, a new calf was spotted Sept.7 in the waters near Sooke.

The new calf – born into the L pod named L122 – was first seen with L91, and confirmed by the Center for Whale Research (CWR) staffers.

A drone helped take measurements and identification photos, and L122 is the fifth new baby to come into the population since December 2014.

In a press release, the CWR noted the mother and baby and other L pod whales spent the afternoon and evening in Haro Strait ‘fishing’ and by the end of the day were joined by J and K pod members.

Earlier this year, Howard Garrett, co-director of the Orca Network based in Washington State said the births this year raises hope for the killer whales, but their population remains in a very serious situation.

“We’ve got to look at the long term and focus on how we can provide for them in years to come,” he said, adding one focus is the removal of dams on the lower Snake River which has blocked the passage of salmon for 40 years.

Garrett said mortality for baby orcas in their first year is very high – between 30 to 50 per cent of newborns don’t make it to their first birthday.

If they do survive, their mortality rate drops significantly, especially as they enter their reproductive years, Garrett added.