(J2, photographed by Leigh Calvez in the San Juans in 2011)
After almost three months without a sighting, another of the Southern Resident Killer Whales is believed to be dead, orca experts are saying tonight. This time it’s J2, nicknamed Granny, believed to have been the oldest of Puget Sound’s endangered resident orcas at ~105 years old, according to Ken Balcomb‘s “in memoriam” essay on the Center for Whale Research website, which concludes:
The SRKW population is now estimated to be 78 as of 31 December 2016, and J pod contains only 24 individuals plus the wandering L87. To whom will he attach now? Who will lead the pod into the future? Is there a future without food? What will the human leaders do?
The SRKW’s predicament was our choice for the top West Seattle wildlife story of 2016 – and it’s unfortunate that another orca death is making headlines so early in 2017. According to the Orca Network‘s website, L25 (Ocean Sun) is now the oldest of the SRKWs, estimated at 89 years old.