A sad announcement today from the Center for Whale Research: J2 (Granny) has not been seen for several months and is presumed deceased. Estimated to be 105 years old, Granny was the eldest female member of J-Pod. The Southern Resident Killer Whales are a matriarchal society, with the eldest female in the family being "the leader." Over the years I have been driving whale watch boats, I have had the opportunity to see the familial interaction with these magnificent mammals; seeing Granny was always a treat. She lived far beyond the typical lifespan of a female Orca, and seemed strong and active when I last saw her in September. We all knew this day was coming at some point - it was a delight to get to show our guests the Orca that was, by far, the one most people asked to see.
(Photo by Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research)