These days most of the news articles you read about whales are heartbreaking rather than heartwarming, but one ol' orca is making waves in a positive way.
“No one knows for sure how long killer whales live," or do they? The claim was made by SeaWorld, an organization where whales die before their twenties. But SeaWorld could be in hot water because of “Granny,” the oldest orca known to be alive at 103 years. Whales born in captivity live an average of 4.5 years, mostly because they’re forced to breed at a dangerously young age. The continuous breeding affects the whales’ health, which may be why the whales at SeaWorld only make it to their 20s.
Contrast this with the lifespan of whales in the wild like Granny, recently seen swimming along Canada’s west coast with her pod of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Orcas can actually swim up to 100 miles per day. There’s some disagreement in the animal community about this, with some saying long-distance swimming is vital to an orca’s mental health, and others such as SeaWorld, saying the opposite - justifying keeping the orcas in confinement.
Despite being an older whale, Granny recently swam a steady 800 miles from the coast of northern California up to Canada.
Almost 85 years have past since Granny was first spotted. In that time, Granny’s pod grew over the years, and at 103, she’s kept up with all of them. Not once has she been separated from her pod, travelling distances most 100-year-old humans would balk at.Orcas at SeaWorld however were separated from their pods. This includes one of Granny’s grandchildren, Canuck, who died at the age of 4 in SeaWorld. Pod separation causes emotional strain and can prevent calves from developing normally. Ever seen Blackfish?Granny lives on in her pod’s company, a clear example of how the wild remains good for health. Even though she’s an outlier, most wild female orcas still have life spans of 50-60 years on average. 50-60 years spent with their pod. With their family.