Four endangered Southern Resident orcas are still missing

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At the moment, the total population of Southern Resident orcas is thought to be 85, down by three percent – a significant loss for a population that is struggling to survive. Researchers are awaiting more encounters before making the final determination (follow the Center for Whale Research Facebook page for updates).

We will wait for a couple more good encounters with L pod before writing them off to make sure they were not just missed.  If these two remain missing, the Southern Resident population will have lost four whales this year so far since L112 washed up dead on the Washington Coast in February 2012, including J30 who has not been seen since last December.  With the loss of four whales and the addition of L119, the Southern Resident population currently stands at 85.

These whales band together and take care of each other, so even the loss of the oldest whales is a blow to the whole population, and the loss of a young male just entering the reproductive years is devastating.
Missing are 17 year old J30, Riptide (pictured below with his great-grandmother, the venerable J2, Granny)-

J30 with great-grandmother j2 and younger sister J37 (Photo by Astrid van Ginneken, Center for Whale Research)

78 year old L12 (Alexis), photographed below with 21 year old L85 (Mystery).  Mystery lost his mother when he was just three years old and was then adopted by his aunt, but she died when he was 14, and Alexis seemed to have accompanied him until the present-
78 year old L12 (Alexis) with 21 year old L85 (Mystery). Photo by Erin Heydenreicht, Center for Whale Research.

47 year old L5, Tanya, who has no surviving offspring.  She often traveled with 22 year old L84, Nyssa, who lost his mother when he was nine. L5 helped with other young whales – she is photographed below helping with a new calf belonging to L54, Ino –

L5 swimming with a new calf (L117) with the baby's mother (L54, Ino) following. Photo by Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research.

And finally the young L112, Victoria, who washed up on a beach in February, her death caused by still undetermined percussive force. Her mother and brother both survived the winter.
Victoria with her mother, L86. Photo by Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research.

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