Orca from San Juans missing, feared dead

Orca from San Juans missing, feared dead

Credit: National Marine Fisheries Service

A photo of orca J-8, also known as "Spieden" with a National Marine Fisheries Service in the background.

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 11:43 AM

SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. --  Whale researchers in Washington’s San Juan Islands confirm an elderly Southern Resident orca is missing.

Ken Balcomb of The Center for Whale Research said J-8, nicknamed "Spieden,” has not been seen since September and is believed to be dead. He said that brings the number of endangered Southern Resident orcas to 80.

Balcomb said he expects losses of older orcas but he’s more concerned about a lack of new births.

“We normally get four calves a year,” said Balcomb, “we’re still waiting for one this year.”

Balcomb said it is time for this country to get serious about restoring dwindling stocks of Chinook salmon, the primary food source for orcas. He said until we do, he expects more losses.

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