Granny hasn’t been seen since last October, and those who know her suspect that she’s dead.
She was an orca, or killer whale—part of a 24-strong group called J-pod that lives in the Pacific Northwest. That pod has been studied by scientists for over 40 years, and Granny has always been a common sight, identifiable by the small half-moon notch in her back fin and the grey saddle patch behind it. Based on those sightings, and on Granny’s family ties, researchers have estimated that she was at least 74 years old at the time of her disappearance, and as possibly as old as 105.
The exact length of her life will never be known—her body hasn’t been found and is probably forever lost to the Pacific. But what’s clear is this: Granny had stopped reproducing sometime before humans got to know her. In the last four decades, she has never given birth to a calf. “I find that absolutely incredible,” says Darren Croft from the University of Exeter. “Her longevity isn’t the interesting thing; it’s her life without a calf.”
Read more at the Atlantic.