Photos: Baby Orca Born in the Wild

Baby Whale
Researchers won't name the calf until they're sure it will survive longer than a year. Center for Whale Research/Ken Balcomb & Dave Ellifrit

In late December, a baby orca whale was born off of the coast of Washington state—an important development for the endangered species, due to their low survival rate.

AsThe Washington Post reported, the Center for Whale Research, which studies orcas in the Pacific Northwest, discovered the female calf while tracking an adult killer whale in the area. Newsweek has decided to call her "Wiggles," but for now, researchers are only identifying her as J-50. They tend to wait a year and make sure a baby whales survive before giving it a name.

The discovery came just weeks after a pregnant 19-year-old whale, died with a fetus in her stomach in Strait of Georgia near Vancouver, British Columbia. "We lost a lot of reproductive potential," Brad Hanson, a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Live Science.

According to NOAA figures, 35 to 45 percent of newborn orcas don't live past the first year. But Hanson is hopeful that J-50's birth is a positive sign for orcas. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research told The Washington Posthe plans on keeping tabs on baby J-50 and monitoring what he hopes is her progress. "We're going to take every opportunity," he said, "to get out and see if it's still doing well."

If these photos of her frolicking with other orcas are of any indication, she's doing just fine.

Whale
Newsweek has decided to call the female calf “Wiggles,” but for now, researchers are only identifying her as J-50. Center for Whale Research/Ken Balcomb & Dave Ellifrit
J-16 and calf J-50
Researchers tend to wait a year and make sure a baby whale survive before giving it a name. Center for Whale Research/Ken Balcomb & Dave Ellifrit
J-16 and calf J-50
The Center for Whale Research discovered the female calf while tracking an adult killer whale in the area. Center for Whale Research/Ken Balcomb & Dave Ellifrit
J-16 and calf J-50
According to NOAA figures, 35 to 45 percent of newborn orcas don’t live past the first year. Center for Whale Research/Ken Balcomb & Dave Ellifrit
J-16 and calf J-50
Researchers are hopeful that the birth of J-50 (or Wiggles) is a positive sign for orcas. Center for Whale Research/Ken Balcomb & Dave Ellifrit
Photos: Baby Orca Born in the Wild | Tech & Science