Granny, the World’s Oldest Known Orca, is Believed to Have Passed Away

Animal advocates are mourning the loss of Granny, the world’s oldest known orca, who is now believed to have passed away.

Granny, who is formally known as J2, is a member of the J-pod, which is one of three pods (J,K and L) that make up the population of the Pacific Northwestís beloved Southern Resident Killer Whales. The great grandmother and matriarch of her family was believed to be 105-years-old.

According to an update from the Center for Whale Research, which keeps an official census of these orcas, Granny was last spotted in October, but she hasn’t been seen since. She is now sadly presumed to be dead.

Her life has fascinated and inspired orca advocates, and her longevity has certainly crushed the captivity industry’s claims about orca lifespans. It is striking to think about what she has seen throughout her existence, and how she has watched her home and family drastically changed because of our actions.

While her family has had some highs with a recent baby boom, it’s also continued to suffer from other tragic losses of members and their future hangs in the balance.

Despite protection in both the U.S. and Canada, they have yet to recover from the trauma of captures for public display that took place in the 1970s. According to the Center for Whale Research, at least 13 orcas were killed during those captures, while 45 others were delivered to marine parks around the world. Today, Lolita, also known as Tokitae, is the only surviving member who is currently being held at the Miami Seaquarium.

Granny’s death brings their numbers down to just 78 individuals who continue to face a barrage of threats ranging from boat traffic and noise to toxic pollutants. Many now believe that the biggest problem they face is a lack of Chinook salmon, which is their main food source.

Orca advocactes†donít believe thereís a single moment to waste if we truly want to help them survive. In addition to removing†dams and restoring salmon runs, conservationists have also been working to designate thousands of miles along the West Coast as critical habitat for them. They have also urged the National Marine Fisheries Service to create a “whale protection zone” around San Juan Island to protect orcas from noise and other disturbances where it may interfere with their ability to hunt.

How to Help Save Granny’s Family

You can help support two important measures that will help these orcas by signing and sharing the Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance’s petition urging the National Marine Fisheries Service to create a “whale protection zone,” and Earthjustice’s petition asking officials to restore salmon by removing the lower Snake River dams.

For more info on these orcas and ways to support their recovery, check out the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative, Orca Network, Center for Whale Research and Whale and Dolphin Conservationís Donít Let Orcas Be Dammed campaign.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


George Denniston MD
George Denniston MDabout a year ago

If you want to be blown away by how intelligent granny was, please read Communicating with Orcas, A whale's Perspective by Mary Getten

Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thank you

Tin Ling L
Tin Ling L1 years ago

thanks you

Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook1 years ago

Thank you for letting us know.

Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Toni W
Toni W1 years ago

Thank you for letting us know.

Toni W
Toni W1 years ago

RIP Granny - free at last.

Sierra B
Sierra B1 years ago

signed. I hope grannys family lives on!

Joanne p
Joanne p1 years ago