2 more orcas will die before summer, predicts researcher

Photos show how much weight K25 has lost in the last two years. (NOAA photos)

Long-time whale researcher Ken Balcomb predicts two more southern resident orcas will die by this summer.

Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research said the two whales, K25 and J17, are dangerously thin due to a lack of fish to eat.

J17 is a 42-year-old female and Balcomb said she has what's called 'peanut head,' which means she is suffering from starvation. Losing her, Balcomb said, would be devastating because she is still young enough to bear calves.

K25 is a 27-year-old male who has had trouble foraging for food since his mother died. Females often help their offspring with food.

"I am confident we are going to lose them sometime before summer," Balcomb told the Seattle Times.

Balcomb said the center is having trouble monitoring the orcas because they are out searching for food.

The southern resident orca population is at its lowest point in 35 years with just 74 left.

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