SEATTLE -- Researchers say there's a new calf among the population of critically endangered killer whales that live in the waters between Washington state and Canada.
The calf, who is believed to be a couple of weeks old, was spotted Thursday afternoon by Air 4 near Vashon Island.
Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, said the calf is very healthy, but that whale calves only have about a 60 percent survival rate.
The calf is currently swimming with L25, the oldest whale in the pod. The pod is about 10 miles south of Victoria as of Friday afternoon.
Balcomb said he believes the last time the L Pod had a calf born was in spring of 2016. He does not know if the calf is male or female at this point.
The whales have been starving amid a dearth of salmon. Vessel noise and pollution have complicated their plight. No calf born in the last three years has survived, and one whale drew international attention when she carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days last summer.
Two other orcas are known to be sick, and researchers fear they could die within months.