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Another orca sick, others pregnant

Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Aug. 7, 2018, near Port Renfrew, B.C. (Brian Gisborne / Associated Press)
Southern Resident killer whale J50 and her mother, J16, swim off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Aug. 7, 2018, near Port Renfrew, B.C. (Brian Gisborne / Associated Press)
Associated Press

SEATTLE – Another orca is sick and several others are pregnant in the critically endangered family of southern resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest.

The Seattle Times reported a 27-year-old male called K25 currently is thinner than in previous years, according to scientists who regularly track the whales with drone photography.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center biologist John Durban said trouble for K25 likely started with the loss of his mother, K13, in 2017, because matriarchs in these pods help capture and share prey.

Aerial images collected this week also show K27, K25’s sister, to be heavily pregnant, along with a number of other females in J, K and L pods.

They haven’t had a successful pregnancy in three years.

NOAA is asking whale watchers to keep an extra distance from them.

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