Granny, the world's oldest known orca, has been spotted again. At 103-years-old, she is the matriarch of a killer whale community known as the "J-Pod." Granny was seen earlier this week leading the pod in their journey from California to the Strait of Georgia, off Vancouver Island. This is the first time Granny has been seen since March 3. Captain Simon Pidcock, captain of Ocean EcoVentures Whale Watching, said Granny was "looking very healthy," a great sign at her age.
Granny's age was calculated in an unusual way. She cannot be tagged and studied like other, younger and smaller animals. Instead, her age was determined by studying life cycles. The Wire spoke with Michael Harris, Executive Director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association and a filmmaker. Harris explained, "We have been conducting studies since the 1970s, and they came up with a plan based on the reproductive cycle of the female [to determine age]. They first give birth when they are, on average, 14. They become post-reproductive around 40, and their offspring stay with them the whole life, so that's how we calculate it."
Granny's pod is the "most intensively studied population of orcas in the world and has the oldest members." Harris calls the J-Pod "quite a paradox." It's whales are among some of the oldest in the world, but "there are only about 80 members, and they have a big problem with [a lack of] fish out there. Despite all the things [humans] have done, we do have an 85-year-old whale out there and 103-year-old Granny."