Oldest known orca ‘Granny’ considered dead

"J2 Granny" was estimated to be 105, but she could have been as young as 90

The Center for Whale Research said it now considers the orca "J2 Granny" to be dead, January 2, 2017. (Heather MacIntyre via KIRO-TV)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The oldest known orca known as “J2 Granny” was declared missing as 2016 came to a close, and now she is considered dead.

The Center for Whale Research wrote on its Facebook page Monday that it was saying goodbye to the 105-year-old orca who was loved by the whale watching community.

Granny was seen in her Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) group J-pod near San Juan Island last summer, and researchers said she was in high spirits.

But by the end of the year, she was missing from the population.

“Perhaps other dedicated whale-watchers have seen her … but by year’s end she is officially missing from the SRKW population,” Center for Whale Research Executive Director Kenneth C. Balcomb wrote. “With regret we now consider her deceased.”

Balcomb said his organization saw Granny thousands of times over 4 decades, and in recent years she was the lead of J-pod virtually every time she was spotted.

Last year, the Orca Network reported Granny’s age to be 105. But KIRO-TV reports there is a 12-year margin around her age, so she could have been as young as 90.