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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Another Baby Orca Is Born In Puget Sound!

L123 is seen in Haro Strait. Capt. Mark Malleson of Prince of Whales Whale Watching took the photo for the Center for Whale Research.
Courtesy Mark Malleson/Pacific Whale Watch Association
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L123 is seen on Saturday in Haro Strait. Capt. Mark Malleson of Prince of Whales Whale Watching took the photo for the Center for Whale Research under Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada license #2013-04 SARA-272 “3” and NMFS Permit #15569.";s:

Welcome, L123: You're the newest baby born to the endangered orcas in the Salish Sea.

The Pacific Whale Watch Association released photos of you and your mother, L103, also known as Lapis, swimming in Haro Strait on Saturday.

L123, you're the seventh baby born into the southern resident pods since last December. You were first spotted Nov. 10 off West Seattle.

We don't know yet whether you're female or male, but you're joining the L pod, one of the three southern resident pods (J, K and L).

Those pods number about 83 individuals. And federal biologists said earlier this year that recent drone images showed several pregnant orcas.

[asset-images[{"caption": "L123 is seen with its mother, L103, on Saturday in Haro Strait. Capt. Mark Malleson of Prince of Whales Whale Watching took the photo for the Center for Whale Research under Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada license #2013-04 SARA-272 “3” and NMFS Permit #15569.", "fid": "122643", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201512/20151208-baby-orca3.jpg", "attribution": "Credit Courtesy Mark Malleson/Pacific Whale Watch Association "}]]One of the females in J pod -- J2 or Granny -- is believed to be more than 100 years old, having been born about 1911.

But the odds are long against you reaching that age, L123. Fifty percent of orca calves don't live beyond their first year.

The southern resident pods are the only group of killer whales listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Live-capture programs for aquariums helped cut the population to 67 by 1971 from an estimated 200 in the 1800s.  Pollution, the decline of king salmon and boat noise combine to threaten the group's survival.

But for now, L123, we'll just hope for a long life for you swimming in the deep blue sea.

[asset-images[{"caption": "L123 swims with its mother, L103, on Saturday in Haro Strait. Capt. Mark Malleson of Prince of Whales Whale Watching took the photo for the Center for Whale Research under Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada license #2013-04 SARA-272 “3” and NMFS Permit #15569.", "fid": "122644", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201512/20151208-baby-orca1.jpg", "attribution": "Credit Courtesy Mark Malleson/Pacific Whale Watch Association "}]]

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