Granny, The Oldest Orca In The World, Just Passed Away

Andrea A.
4/1/2017

Scientists affectionately dubbed her Granny. This female, over 100 years old, also called J2, most likely passed away recently,announcedtheCenter for Whale Research on Saturday, December 30.[caption id="attachment_27342" align="alignnone" width="800"]

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Granny in 2010. Source: Dave Ellifrit[/caption]The American research center on the Pacific Coast was following Granny's group and for several months they haven't seen the matriarch. "At the end of this year, she is officially absent from the group [of resident orcas], and it's with regret that we now consider her to be dead," explained Ken Balcomb, the director of the center.[caption id="attachment_27346" align="alignnone" width="800"]

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Granny and her son, J1, in May 2009. Source: Erin Heydenreich[/caption]On Facebook, the scientists who were observing Granny for 40 years shared their emotion:

Well, we knew this day would come, and each year that she returned with the rest of J pod brought us closer to this inevitable moment. With heavy hearts we have to say goodbye to yet another southern resident, perhaps the most loved and known to all and the oldest orca to date: J2 also known as Granny.

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Granny in 2010. Source: Center for Whale Research[/caption]Granny was highly discussed the past few years in regards to the controversy around SeaWorld and other aquatic parks. The female was a part of a group of orcas baptized SRKW, from which, a number of members were captured by the American enterprise and condemned to a life of captivity, especially in the 1970s.That is notably the case of Lolita, a female most likely from the same bloodline as Granny, who has lived the past 36 years in a tiny bassininSeaquariumlocated in Miami, Florida.[caption id="attachment_27345" align="alignnone" width="761"]

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Granny in 1998. Source: Center for Whale Research[/caption]While scientists agreethat killer whales can live up to 100 years in their natural habitat, SeaWorld always evaluated their life to be around 30 years to avoid attracting attention to the number of premature deathsfrom captivity. Animal rights defenders brandished the exceptional longevity of Granny as a symbol.[caption id="attachment_27347" align="alignnone" width="1576"]

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Granny in 2007. Source: Center for Whale Research[/caption]Despite new legislation limiting the captivity of orcas in different states there still exist parks all over the world who hold them captive. There are multiple ways to respond. The most important is to spread the information around because a large portion of the population still doesn't know the living conditions of the animals in these parks. You can also sign this petitionto send the orcas living in captivity to sea sanctuaries.