With another killer whale losing weight but at least three others recently discovered to be pregnant, federal officials are asking boaters to give the pods an even wider berth.
NOAA reports that a late-20s male appears thinner since losing its mother last year, which could be making foraging more difficult.
“While the decline in K25’s body condition is not as severe as we saw with J50 this summer, it is a warning signal,” said Lynn Barre, the recovery coordinator for resident orcas.
J50 was a three-year-old southern resident that is now believed to have died.
The agency says it will track the animal’s condition, collect poop samples if it can and otherwise try to minimize disturbing it.
The average life span of a bull orca is 30 years.
Meanwhile, NOAA says that at least one female in J, K and L Pods is pregnant, “vital news.”
“We ask that vessels minimize disturbance of these pregnant whales, in addition to K25, to maximize the chances of successful pregnancies,” said Scott Rumsey, the deputy West Coast region administrator.
The news comes as salmon fishing is just about wrapped up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juans, where this coming Sunday, Sept. 30, is the final day of coho season. That’s also when crabbing closes in the islands.
And it follows yesterday’s release for public comment of potential recommendations on what to do to increase prey availability, operate vessels and clean up contaminants that could be affecting killer whale survival in Puget Sound.
Federal regs require boaters to stay 200 yards from whales, and earlier this year WDFW created a voluntary no-go zone on the west side of San Juan Island, and