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Another Puget Sound orca presumed to be dead

Southern resident orcas. (AP)

Another Southern Resident orca hasn’t been seen in months, with researchers fearing the worst for a population that continues to struggle.

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According to the Center for Whale Research, L41 was last seen on August 11, 2019 in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca. During a January 2019 encounter, it was noted that “he looked a little thin.” Paired with his advanced age, the fear is that he’s passed away.

“We fear he may be gone and will consider him missing unless he shows up unexpectedly in an upcoming encounter,” said the Center in a recent account of the latest local orca sighting on Jan. 24. When a whale is listed as “missing,” it is presumed to be dead.

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A similar occurrence took place last August, when three other Puget Sound orcas were labeled as missing after not being seen for months.

In better orca-related news, a calf born in 2019 “looked good” in the most recently documented encounter, while sporting “a rather unique looking left saddle” (the patch of white on orcas directly behind their front fins).

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