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May 13, 2014 7:48 AM   Subscribe

The world's oldest recorded orca was spotted swimming with her pod off the Seattle coast this weekend. J2, nicknamed Granny, is believed to have been born in 1911, making her 103. posted by theweasel (28 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Not much you can say about a 103 year-old orca, but I'm glad she's still out there.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:17 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Orcane.
posted by Kabanos at 8:23 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


parked in her rickety old garage is a brand-new, shiny red, super stock Dodge...

nothing useful to say about orcas, just have Beach Boys earworms now, thanks a lot
posted by radicalawyer at 8:41 AM on May 13


Wild orca ages are estimated based on the ages of the individual's offspring.

And the offspring's ages are determined by....?
posted by yoink at 8:47 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


One assumes by reference to a calendar.

(These appear to be closely monitored animals; observers may note individual births and keep track from there.)
posted by notyou at 8:53 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


In addition:

Pidcock said researchers also determine age based on the size of the whales, and Granny’s current bulk can be compared to photographic images of her dating back to the late 1930s and early 1940s.
posted by notyou at 8:55 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


They extrapolate ages based on age of adulthood (~20 years), age when females stop having calves (~40 years), and using animal associations to determine lineage.

They have pictures in '71 of Granny with what is believed to be her last calf, who they estimate to be 20 YO at the time of the photo, implying he was born in '51. Assuming that was Granny's last calf (based on associations), and assuming she had him at the age of 40 YO, that puts her as being born in the neighborhood of 1911.

An imprecise science, to be sure.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 8:57 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


It's so great to hear that Granny, L87 Onyx, & J-Pod are all together.

The studio album will be amazing.
posted by univac at 9:07 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


What I found notable is that even at ~100 her dorsal find hasn't collapsed. Whereas with captive orca, most males and some females will experience dorsal fin collapse within a matter of a few years of being in captivity.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:23 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


"off of Seattle" is a bit of a stretch.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:24 AM on May 13


Orcagenarian
posted by zippy at 9:29 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


> The studio album will be amazing.

You joke, but a friend's dad actually records albums with them. He lives on Orcas Island, so chances are he's actually recorded a few albums with Granny and the J-Pod.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:38 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: Orcas Island, not named after the whale.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:46 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


However still a great place to watch Orcas from land.

Also I forgot he lives on San Juan, last time I saw him was when I was visiting Orcas
posted by mrzarquon at 9:48 AM on May 13


Wild orca ages are estimated based on the ages of the individual's offspring.

And the offspring's ages are determined by....?


It's orcas all the way down.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:58 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


The one time I saw the orca was on the west side of San Juan, on their first day back from California some years ago. A very nice place to hang out.
posted by wotsac at 9:59 AM on May 13


What I found notable is that even at ~100 her dorsal find hasn't collapsed. Whereas with captive orca, most males and some females will experience dorsal fin collapse within a matter of a few years of being in captivity.

Yeah, before watching Blackfish I never knew how little empathy I could have for a human being eaten by an orca.
posted by crayz at 10:24 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]




"Can you imagine the things she’s seen in her lifetime?”

Erm, yeah. Lots of water and fish.
posted by Windigo at 10:36 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Not to be "that guy" but MAN orcas age well. I've seen humpbacks half her age with twice as many wrinkles.
posted by rahnefan at 12:19 PM on May 13


What I found notable is that even at ~100 her dorsal find hasn't collapsed. Whereas with captive orca, most males and some females will experience dorsal fin collapse within a matter of a few years of being in captivity.

Not to mention, orcas in captivity live about 20 years, not 100.
posted by The otter lady at 12:40 PM on May 13


Yeah, we watch our orca pods very closely here in Puget Sound. Anything interesting happens to these guys and it's all over the news. We tend to use the health of the orca pods as a indicator of the health of the Sound itself.
posted by lhauser at 1:45 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I don't know. Orca pods may be all very well, but I still prefer to grind and tamp my own.
posted by yoink at 2:11 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Quick, SeaWorld, kidnap her. Her fin is looking just a bit too straight.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:40 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


And I craved I ate hearts of sharks, I know you know it

Also relevant.

Plus, I feel like if you played that for her, she might really like it. Or else be like fucking hipster humans and capsize your boat.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:48 PM on May 13


When I saw the post title, I thought it would be about this story which I had seen earlier in the day.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:17 PM on May 13


A bowhead whale killed in Alaskan waters back in 2007 or so had a whaling lance fragment more than a century old embedded in its neck.

At 50 tons, the average cell in that bowhead could be argued to have divided about 10 times more than the average cell in a human that old at least, and if a limit in the number of time a cell can divide before becoming senescent (the Hayflick limit) is in fact the biggest barrier to really extended longevity for us, then cetaceans might be able to show us how to do something we've dreamed about maybe since the invention of language.

But we'll probably end up killing them all for -- well, mainly for pet food, it seems-- before we have a chance to learn what they could teach us.

Being a human feels very strange at times.
posted by jamjam at 9:35 PM on May 13


"Can you imagine the things she’s seen in her lifetime?”

Windigo - Erm, yeah. Lots of water and fish.

I know that was a throw away facetious comment, but it is wrong on the internet, so you should feel bad ; )

An animal that has lived for 100+ years in the ocean has seen a lot. The proliferation of ocean going diesel powered ships happened during her lifetime. Just 10% of the number of large predatory animals in the ocean that she grew up with remain.
Orcas potentially have a deeper emotional life than humans, so it is likely she will have 'seen' a lot more than we can understand.
If you look at, say, the brain of an orca [and] the brain of a human, it would be difficult to say that the human brain was capable of more emotional depth than the orca brain, because — again — what you see in the orca brain is an elaboration on the limbic area that the human brain doesn’t have.

So if that part of the orca brain is doing what it should be doing, as it does in all mammals — that is, processing emotions — it suggests [that] these animals are doing something very sophisticated or complex while they’re processing emotions. And I think also when you look at behavior of dolphins and whales, especially in the wild, you see a level of social cohesion that is really unmatched in other mammals including the humans.
posted by asok at 5:43 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


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