‘Granny’, the world’s oldest killer whale, is STILL swimming in the Pacific: 105-year-old orca was alive before Titanic sank
- Granny was sighted with other whales on 27 July in the Salish Sea
- Scientists have been studying the remarkable cetacean since 1971
- Officially known as J2, she is the oldest known orca in the world
- Typically killer whales live to between the age of 60 and 80 in the wild
Born one year before the ill-fated Titanic struck an iceberg, the world’s oldest known killer whale has been spotted off the coast of Washington.
Experts spied the 105-year orca nicknamed ‘Granny’ with other whales on 27 July in the Salish Sea.
Scientists have been studying the remarkable cetacean since 1971 when they estimated she was 60 years old and gave her the official name of J2.
Experts have been studying whales in the North Pacific Ocean, called the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) since the early 1970s. Granny, pictured in 2014, is said to be the matriarch of the group and was spotted in the Strait of Georgia at the weekend
HOW DID EXPERTS DETERMINE GRANNY’S AGE?
Researchers began studying the resident orcas in the early 1970s.
At that time they had photos of Ruffles, known as J1, and Granny, taken in 1971.
Their relative size suggests they were both fully grown adults when the photo was taken, meaning they were both at least 20 years old in 1971.
Experts at the time said Ruffles was the younger of the two, and due to their association, suggested Granny was Ruffles’ mother.
If Ruffles was at least 20 in 1971, she would have been born in 1951, and since Granny was not spotted with any more children after this date, the researchers assumed Ruffles was her final calf.
Female killer whales stop producing at around the age of 40, which means if Ruffles was born in 1951, and Granny was 40 at that time, her birth year would be 1911.
Her presence has stunned scientists because killer whales, or orcas, typically live to between the age of 60 and 80 in the wild.
Granny is a matriarch of a group called the Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Pacific Ocean.
Experts from Ocean EcoVentures Whale Watching were able to identify her thanks to a marking on her dorsal fin, as well as as a half-moon-shaped notch.
They said in a blog post: ‘J2 and and her family have spent the past few weeks foraging and travelling the Georgia Strait.’
Simon Pidcock, from the company, added: ‘Granny has been swimming pretty much non-stop for over 100 years.
‘The Southern Residents on average travel about 72 miles in a 24-hour period day in, day out.
‘This means in Granny’s lifetime she has swam around the world the equivalent of a 100 times.’
In 2014, Granny was spotted in the Strait of Georgia, when she was thought to have travelled up from California with her pod.
Her return to the area for the first time in years was announced by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA).