Orca Whale L90 Avoided Vessel Strike, But Her Health Has Researchers Concerned: Update 9/11/2011, L90 Possibly Gave Birth Today

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Update 9/11/11: There are rumors that L90 may have recently given birth, if so it will be the second calf for the Southern Resident population this summer. I will update when more information is available.

L90 (Photo by Erin Heydenreich)

(8/26/11) From The Center:
“The Center for Whale Research received a report this morning of a potential vessel strike with a southern resident killer whale. The whale that was believed to be struck is L90, an 18 year old female.
Witnesses described the whale ‘logging’, or floating at the surface, for a prolonged period after a private vessel was observed passing very close to where the whale was thought to be. L90 was then reported to remain on the surface and was breathing heavily. Once we received the report we quickly departed and found L90 with her mother, L26 just off Lime Kiln State Park. She was moving slowly and spending several minutes resting at the surface. She was taking shallow dives and barely moving north with the rest of the whales.
We were able to observe her very closely and found no evidence of a vessel strike. On numerous occasions she spent several minutes hovering just below the surface of the water allowing us to get a good look at most of her body, and we did not see any wounds or scratches. We continued to follow her for a few hours and observed that she eventually began to travel at a more normal pace, although remaining behind the rest of the groups of whales. The other whales in the area were behaving normally, resting, foraging and socializing.
Based on our observations and descriptions of the event from witnesses, we do not believe that L90 was struck by the vessel. Based on her age and previous behavior we have concluded that she may be pregnant. It is also possible that she may be ill or have some unknown condition.”
For the full report on today’s incident and to learn more about this whale, please go to The Center for Whale Research’s website).

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