Based on the data provided by the Center for Whale Research, the oldest known orca is presumably dead. Throughout the summer of 2016, whale researchers believed that “J2 Granny” which was part of the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) group J pod might be dead. She was spotted near San Juan Island, but unfortunately, by the end of 2016, the whale was nowhere to be found, missing from her group of whales.
Kenneth C. Balcomb, the executive director of the Center for Whale Research, has stated that probably other whale-watchers might have seen her. Nevertheless, statistics proved that she was missing from the SRKW population at the end of 2016. He argued that he together with researchers at the research center have spotted this mammal several times during the last forty years. In recent years, J2 was seen being the leader of the J pod.
The Southern Resident Killer Whale group population is currently estimated at 78 members. J pod is known to represent only 24 members of the entire population of SRKW including the wandering L87. The Orca Network from last year revealed that J2 Granny was estimated to be about 105 years old. Nevertheless, other specialists noted that there might be a 12-year margin around the mammal’s age. She might as well be 90 years old.
The average lifespan of an individual from this species oscillates between 60 and 80 years old. This species is listed under the US Endangered Species Act, being threatened by extinction. The Southern Resident Killer Whale group is famous for its longevity. Other individuals from this group proved their extended lifespan.
For instance, The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) had unveiled that another female known as Lummi or K7 was known to be about 98 years old when she died back in 2008. Also, Ocean Sun, another member of the Southern Resident group of whales also known as L25 was believed to be almost 85 years old.
Based on the information provided by the Pacific Whale Watch Association, the researchers responsible for examining wild orcas used an extrapolation method to estimate orcas’ ages. This technique is accepted by both Canadian and US scientists. Their scheme is based on the idea that the offspring remain close to their mother their whole lives.
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