Science

World’s Oldest Killer Whale Has Died

By Rodney Rafols , Jan 04, 2017 02:05 AM EST

Over the years, many animals have become famous. One of the most famous ones is the world's oldest killer whale. Now the world's oldest killer whale has died.

Officially the oldest killer whale is known as J2. However she is affectionately called a Granny. Granny is estimated to be around 100 years old, and possibly even older. Female killer whales are said to live well beyond reproductive years.

Not all mammals experience menopause. Killer whales are only one of three mammals that experience it. The other two are pilot whales and of course, humans. The great apes such as chimpanzees do not experience menopause, even though humans and chimpanzees are almost biologically the same.

Researchers have been studying the killer whale pod in which Granny belongs. The research is aimed in knowing what the role of the female matriarch is in a killer whale pod. Female killer whales take care of the calves and even feed some of the larger male killer whales in the pod.

The research also aims to see just what causes a species to stop reproducing at a certain point. While the study will continue, it would be different since Granny would not be part of it anymore, according to the BBC.

Granny has first been observed by Dr. Ken Balcomb from the Centre for Whale Research in 1976. Since that time he has followed Granny and her pod, who frequent the Salish Sea. Granny has last been sighted by Dr. Balcomb on October 12, 2016, as The Telegraph reports. He has said that other watchers could still have possibly seen Granny after that time.

While Granny's death has not been observed, she has been reported as missing towards the end of 2016. It is presumed she has died since she could no longer be seen with her pod. The population of the killer whales at the Salish Sea has been reduced to 78 by December 31, 2016. Part of the reason why its population has decreased is because of a decrease in salmon, which has been an important food source for the killer whales in the area.

Killer whales are one of the longest living mammals. The world's oldest killer whale has died, reducing its numbers. More hard times might be in store for those in the Arctic as famine is said to be looming there.

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