New peril for gray whale survival? Predatory orcas spotted in Baja calving lagoon
by Mary F. Calvert @marycalvert, Posted Mar 4th, 2016
Baja California, Mexico — A deadly threat is lurking in the Baja California Sur waters — orcas, or killer whales.
The animals, which are highly endangered, have a dangerous reputation among scientists and the public alike. Orcas have also gained increasing media scrutiny in recent years, with reports of attacks and deaths by killer whales, as well as threats and illegal killing by the Mexican Navy.
On March 3, 2016, two females and one male killer whale spotted in the Laguna de Banderas, located in the southern part of the Baja California Sur. It’s the only lagoon in Mexico where orcas congregate and has been a tourist magnet for decades, and a place where many have been killed by them.
Orcas can be found throughout much of the ocean and are the largest population of “bala,” or killer whales. The animals are at the apex of their species and are listed as ‘endangered,’ with less than 200,000 global populations, making them among the most endangered mammals on the planet.
According to their website, the Mexican Navy began monitoring these animals in 2011 by watching their activities near the beaches of Ensenada, which is where the whales have been spotted. Scientists have observed them for years through satellite tracking.
For the last two years, there have been four orca sightings and five whale sightings. In 2015, a pod of orcas was reportedly found on San Roque, Mexico, and the following year, a pod was seen in Ensenada, as well as a pod in San Antonio, Mexico, in February 2016.
The Marine Research Institute at the Institute of Marine Biology on the University of Costa Rica, in collaboration with the Marine Research