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The Oldest Killer Whale Dies at More Than 100 Years Old

The Oldest Killer Whale Dies at More Than 100 Years Old

Granny, scientifically cataloged as J2, is believed to have been born in 2011 - a year before the sinking of the Titanic - but a precise birthday is impossible to determine.

J2, also known as "Granny" because she was the oldest of the southern residents, was last spotted by Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research on October 12 swimming north in Haro Strait.

This is important because Granny had been the oldest killer whale in the world - estimated by scientists to be 105 years old.

"J2 Granny was no doubt the most revered and loved orca in her extended family, certainly by her human followers and no doubt also by her family", wrote Howard Garrett of Orca Network, a group working to raise raises awareness about the serious issues affecting the critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

Granny was considered the matriarch of the J pod, which includes about two dozen whales.

Dr Balcomb wrote that he last saw her on 12 October, 2016, as she swam north far ahead of the others.

Southern resident killer whales were placed on the endangered animals list in 2005. She was the star of a recent BBC documentary that chronicled biologists' study of her family of orcas, in order to look into female whales' menopause. Unfortunately, it seems like time has finally caught up with the old gal, as the Center for Whale Research just announced, Granny has likely passed away.

In a eulogy penned on the group's website, Balcomb says J2 was considered officially missing from the population by the end of the year, and is now believed to be deceased.

"Granny" has baffled researchers because killer whales usually live around 50 years in the wild.

"The population is now estimated to be 78 as of 31 December 2016, and J-pod contains only 24 individuals plus the wandering L-87", said Balcomb.

"Let's celebrate Granny's life and let's look at her as maybe some hope", said Harris.

Researchers blame the decline of the population on a shortage of primary food - Chinook salmon - and high levels of toxins in the blubber, the result of pollutants in the water and food.


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