All Photo Credit: messagesfrommotherdot.org
An orca called “Granny,” that was spotted traveling off the coast of Canada with her pod, part of the Southern Residents that live in the inland waters of Washington State and British Columbia, has been making some serious waves for SeaWorld – and across the Internet after astounding people with her age. The killer whale that’s been estimated by experts to now be 104 years old, disproves the claims of the marine park that orcas typically live up to 25 to 35 years in the wild, or about the same lifespan they have in captivity.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation project estimates that whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old, on average, a number derived from that fact that many of SeaWorld’s orcas die before they reach their second decade. At SeaWorld, the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages, which is believed to impact their overall health. Additionally, in the wild, orcas swim up to 100 miles per day. Being stuck in a tank where they swim a mere fraction of that amount is also believed to be a big factor in their shorter lives.
Long distance swimming, according to animal welfare advocates, is essential to the animals’ psychological health and well-being, but SeaWorld has claimed on record that orcas do not need to swim hundreds of miles regularly, likely to defend its cruel practice of keeping the massive and powerful whales in a confined, cramped area.
While most wild orcas don’t live as long as Granny, their lifespans are still significantly longer than those of the whales stuck at SeaWorld. The average lifespan of a wild orca is between 60 and 80 years, but other members of the Southern Residents have lived almost equally as long lives as Granny, including females Ocean Sun and Lummi, who died aged 85 and 98 respectively.
The whales lifespan is similar to humans, which means that living as long as Granny has is actually not all that astounding. Granny simply exemplifies the much richer, longer lives that orcas enjoy in the wild, despite what SeaWorld says.
Granny was recognized off the Canadian coast because of her white patch on the dorsal fin alongside a half-moon-shaped notch. She had traveled up from the coast of California, near the mouth of the Russian River, where she was spotted eight days before Captain Simon Pidcock of Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching, which means Granny and her pod covered around 800 miles in just over a week.
Shortly after the event, Pidcock said: “We were thrilled to see her. And 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?”
Granny was first identified in the 1970s, when scientists estimated that she was born around 1911 based on the age of her offspring. Though her age is supported by scientific research, SeaWorld continues to refute the claims. Granny, in the meantime, carries forward to guide her family, swimming hundreds and hundreds of miles through the waters of the Pacific while continuing to prove SeaWorld wrong, in just about every possible way.
You can watch the Southern Residents, made up of three pods known as J, K, and L, here: