SEATTLE (AP) – The region’s expert on the demographics of the critically endangered southern residents says two more orcas are ailing and probably will be dead by summer.
The Seattle Times reports Center for Whale Research founding director Ken Balcomb says photos taken of J17 on New Year’s Eve showed the 42-year-old female has so-called peanut head, a misshapen head and neck caused by starvation.
In addition a 27-year-old male known as K25 is failing, also from lack of sufficient food. He lost his mother, K13, in 2017 and is not successfully foraging on his own.
Several whales were documented to be pregnant in September, but so far there has been no sign of babies. The southern residents haven’t had a successful pregnancy in three years.
The southern resident population is at a 35-year low after three deaths in 2018. There are only 74 left.