Granny, also known as J2, is an orca, or killer whale, estimated by scientists to be 103 years old, making her the oldest known orca alive. The average lifespan of a wild female orca is 60 to 80 years. Granny had been captured with the rest of her pod in 1967 but was too old at that time for a marine mammal park, so was released. Granny is estimated to have been born in 1911.
As the oldest known orca, Granny is used in arguments against keeping whales in captivity, due to the reduced lifespan of whales in captivity. The oldest orca in captivity is the 50 year old Lolita who is at the Miami Seaquarium. The average lifespan for captured orca is 20 to 30 years. Of Granny’s age, Piddock said ” it’s mind-blowing to think that this whale is over 100 years old. She was born before the Titanic went down. Can you imagine the things she’s seen in her lifetime?”
Stories such as travelling 800 miles in a week are used to counter arguments by sea parks that whales do not need a large area to swim in.
Granny was also used as a focal point of environmental efforts that resulted in the Endangered Species Act protections for orca. Environmentalists estimate that Granny may have a PCB load of up to 100 parts per million, and that her descendants’ reproductive systems may have been damaged by exposure to pollution. Additionally, Granny and her family are at risk from declining West Coast salmon populations.
Granny was featured in a children’s book on orcas titled Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas by Sally Hodson