UPDATE: Since this post, Granny has been making serious waves, by guiding her family, swimming hundreds and hundreds of miles off the Pacific coast and by generally proving SeaWorld wrong in every way. Also see this post for an explanation of how scientists know her age.
could be in trouble because of “Granny,” the world’s oldest known
living orca. The 103-year-old whale (also known as J2) was recently spotted off Canada’s western coast
with her pod -- her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
But while the Granny sighting is thrilling for us, it’s problematic for
First of all, SeaWorld has claimed that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live,” when simple figures or even living and thriving examples -- like Granny -- can give us a pretty good idea. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation project estimates
that whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old, on average;
many of SeaWorld’s orcas die before they reach their 20s. Perhaps
because of their reduced lifespans, the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages, which could also diminish their overall health.