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It’s a Girl Orca! Imperiled Pod’s Newborn Killer Whale Identified

A pod of endangered killer whales welcomed a newborn into the family a few days before the start of 2015, and researchers have now determined that the baby orca is a female.

Scientists first spotted the newborn killer whale on Dec. 30 in British Columbia's Gulf Island archipelago, but now the baby has been spotted again, and it appears happy and healthy. Researchers were able to identify the whale's gender while it was playing and skimmed the surface with its belly up.

The birth is good news for the endangered group, named J-pod, that roams around the Gulf Islands and Washington state's Puget Sound.

Image: Baby orca
A newborn orca known as J50 that is part of an endangered pod broke the surface belly up, giving researchers the opportunity to identify the calf as a female. J. Cogan / Center for Whale Research

It's especially fortunate that the new calf is a female, since the pod suffered the devastating loss of a pregnant 19-year-old female last month. If the newborn survives, it will be the pod's first successful calf in more than two years. [Image Gallery: Russia's Beautiful Killer Whales]

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