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WHALES AHOY
103-year-old killer whale seen cruising northern Pacific Ocean
by Brooks Hays
Vancouver, British Columbia (UPI) May 15, 2013


Killer whale ‘Granny,’ (on left) the 103-year-old matriarch of the Southern Resident killer whale community, last week led J-Pod up from California into the Strait of Georgia just in time for Mother’s Day in the Northwest. Image courtesy Simon Pidcock.

Granny is back, and she's rolling deep -- 25 whales deep. "Granny" is what scientists call the matriarch of a pack of killer whales known as the "J-Pod," or the "Southern Resident Killer Whales." And Granny is estimated to be 103 years old.

Thought to be born roughly a year before the Titanic sank, Granny was recently spotted cruising the cold northern Pacific waters off the coast of British Columbia. The majority of killer whales don't make it past 70 years old.

But onlookers say Granny is still sprightly and strong-willed. She was first spotted by Simon Pidcock of Ocean EcoVentures, who was guiding a local whale watching tour in Canada's Strait of Georgia, which separates Vancouver Island from the mainland.

"I've seen Granny in these parts about 1,000 times over 13 years," Pidcock told The Vancouver Sun. "She looked really healthy and playful. It was good to see them foraging, finding fish here."

Just a week ago, Granny and her gang were spotted several hundred miles south along the coast of Southern California.

Ken Balcomb, from the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Washington, says whales didn't always have to travel so far to find food.

"The era of dam construction in the U.S. decimated the salmon supply," Balcomb told the Sun. "[Orcas] used to be able to cherry-pick salmon runs. Now they forage for them."

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