Also missing and presumed dead is K21, or Cappuccino, the 35-year-old man who was last seen extremely emaciated in July near Sooke.
One of the most prolific matriarchs among the remaining killer whales in the south has disappeared and is presumed dead.
L47, also known as Marina, has not been seen since February 27, despite census surveys conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Washington state-based Center for Whale Research that have found and photographed their line of descent, who always travel together. .
The death of the 47-year-old grandmother could have serious consequences, according to the Center for Whale Research, as older, post-reproductive females occupy key leadership roles in the herd by helping raise the calves and find food, particularly when the salmon are rare.
Also missing and presumed dead is K21, or Cappuccino, the 35-year-old man who was last seen extremely emaciated in July near Sooke. Scientists have confirmed the death of K21 after repeatedly counting the entire K sheath without locating the killer whale.
The southern resident killer whale population as of the July 1 census was 74, but is now expected to decline to 72.
The news follows a recent drone photograph showing that three females in J-Pod are likely pregnant. But optimism is tempered by the fact that the success rate for killer whales is 50-50. Residents of the south are further facing a shortage of Chinook salmon, their main food source.
Born in 1974, L47 had seven young that survived long enough to receive an alphanumeric designation, the most of any resident of the south. Four of her young did not survive the first year.
His three surviving descendants are L115, a young male, and L83 and L91, two adult daughters who are raising their own children, L110 and L122.
The Center for Whale Research said L47’s offspring face increased risk in the coming years in its absence. Her son, L115, has a three times higher risk of death in the next two years than a man the same age with a surviving mother.
L47’s two grandchildren, L110 and L122, have a six times higher risk of death in the next two years, assuming salmon abundance is at historic averages. With a lower abundance of salmon, this risk increases, the researchers said.