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Older Than Titanic? 105-Year-Old Killer Whale Named Granny Spotted With Humpback Whales in the Pacific

Aug 09, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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A 105-year-old orca whale that's older than the Titanic is still alive and kicking. Nicknamed Granny, the killer whale was spotted at San Juan Island’s False Bay, swimming with other whales.

Who is Granny?

According to the Orca Network, on July 27, Granny (whose scientific name is J2) was seen heading south along with a pair of humpback whales.

The report says that Granny, who is the oldest known living orca, is usually seen hanging around a group of about 25 killer whales.

"They sure seemed to be in high spirits ... And then there was that humpback that popped up surprisingly in the distance breaching over and over and over," Heather MacIntyre, a photographer, recalled.

Determining an Orca’s Age

Granny has been studied by scientists since her first sighting in 1971 when she was 60 years old. Through the years, Granny has continually survived, even breaking records of its species' life expectancy, which usually is between 60 and 80 years old, SF Gate reports.

Michael Harris, executive director of Pacific Whale Watch Association, explained in a previous Seattle PI report that measuring the age of an orca is different from normal calendar years.

“Wild orca researchers use an extrapolation scheme to estimate ages of orcas. It’s a well-accepted technique used by both U.S. and Canadian scientists, based on the fact that offspring stay close to their mothers all their lives," he said.

Resilience Through the Years

Harris also highlighted that there’s a big difference between the lifespan of wild and captive orcas, saying that the latter lives 50 years shorter. He also talked how orca species like Granny have survived throughout the years despite the changing environment and external threats.

“These Pacific Northwest orcas certainly have great genes. I’m sure the pressures we put on them have made them resilient. They’re problem solvers, survivors. We’ve taken away their food and trashed their homes. We’ve done all sorts of awful things to them, and yet here they are – and here’s Granny, still out front, still running the family," said Harris, adding that Granny is a perfect example that there's still hope in saving this endangered species.

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