SEATTLE -- The future looks bright for killer whales in Washington state.
Pacific Whale Watch Association Crews are reporting that the eight Southern Resident orca calves appear to be healthy and active.
The latest images of the eight calves show improvement for the Pacific Northwest calf population.
Following the death of several whales in 2014 there was a substantial concern for extinction. In fact, the species were previously petitioned to be listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
"Every time we had a baby born to this population last year, people got giddy," remembers Michael Harris, Executive Director of PWWA, representing 38 companies operating out of 21 ports in BC and Washington. "And awesome as the news always was, I guess we sometimes had to be a buzzkill. We had to remind everyone that wild orcas have a 50% mortality rate out there, that half of these babies don't make it through their first year. It's a coin flip, we said. Well, now we can breathe a little easier. . ."
The Center for Whale Research now estimates up to nine babies could be produced by the population each year, but with a high rate of neonatal and prenatal mortality the annual average has been three.
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