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Baby whale expected to die

An orphaned West Coast orca is not expected to survive.

The 10-month old killer whale should still be nursing, experts say.

J54, or Dipper, was born in December into a group of three orca pods known as the Southern Resident killer whales.

The calf was doing well until the apparent death of its mother earlier this month.

While a body hasn't been found, J28 was seen in an "emaciated" state this summer.

Kenneth Balcomb, with the Center for Whale Research in Washington State, said J28's absence was noted within a few days.

"Regrettably, now that Mother has died, he will not survive, and he in fact probably is already dead," Balcomb said.

Dipper's older sibling has been trying to care for the orphaned calf, catching salmon and offering them up. But the calf still needs its mother's milk.

Balcomb said the Southern Resident population has been plagued with issues, including a miscarriage rate of more than 50 per cent, and young mothers dying faster than they are being replaced. Thus, their population is falling. It's currently believed to number about 80.

 

Falling salmon stocks and ocean contamination are believed to be factors in the decline.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



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