We marked the confirmation of the death of a captive beluga at Marineland this week, “Beyli,” but now turn to marking the birth of a newborn L Pod Orca – the first in two years! The first sighting of the calf came on September 7, 2014 by the Center for Whale Reserach.
The L Pod population, which calls the waters off of West Coast of North America home, is a resident Orca grouping that is listed as endangered and that has had issues with declining numbers. This birth pushes their number back up to 79 and signals new hope.
Born to L86, this baby now known as L120, will face challenges. An estimated 1/4 of wild orcas do not make it to their first birthday, and this resident grouping faces threats from military and sound disturbances, food scarcity (salmon), and pollutants. Environmentalists, scientists, Indigenous nations and anti-captivity advocates have also sounded the alarm on proposed pipeline projects on the West Coast that would only add more risks and harm to wildlife.
Still, the birth signals the resiliency of the Southern Resident Orcas – a birth that is marked while J Pod Matriarch “Granny” (J-2) still carries on at the age of 103. With all of the threats facing these wild populations, they still find a way. Their resistance should be our guide as we fight to free their captive cousins and protect their natural habitats.