Three more extremely endangered southern resident killer whales presumed dead

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      There's more devastating news for lovers of the Salish Sea's iconic southern resident orcas.

      Today, the Washington state–based Center for Whale Research issued a statement saying that three more of these critically endangered animals have been missing since July 1 and are presumed dead.

      The missing marine mammals are J17, K25, and L84, bringing the number from the three pods down to 73.

      "Due to the scarcity of suitable Chinook salmon prey, this population of whales now rarely visit core waters of its designated Critical Habitat: Puget Sound, Georgia Strait, and the inland reach of the Strait of Juan de Fuca," the centre said.

      J17 is a 42-year-old female, the J pod matriarch, and the orca who famously carried her dead calf for 17 days last year. Her two daughters and one son are still alive.

      K25 is a 28-year-old adult male whose body was not in good condition last winter.

      L84 is a 29-year-old male.

      According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, southern resident orcas lifespans are generally from 30 to 90 years.

      Each orca weighs up to 11 tons and can be nearly three metres in length.