Credit: Center for Whale Research Simon Pidcock of Ocean EcoVentures, who recently spotted the orca, said:
I've seen Granny in these parts about 1,000 times over 13 years. She looked really healthy and playful. It was good to see them foraging, finding fish here.
Her age is actually more of an estimation. In fact, Granny is even more well-known, because she was captured in 1967 but was deemed too old for marine parks, and let go. Granny belongs to the most studied group of orca whales in the world. She was first identified in the 1970s, when scientists estimated that she was born around 1911 based on the age of her offspring.
According to Ken Balcomb, the center's director and a researcher who originally studied Granny and her pod, the whale's age is an estimate based on her size, and the fact that she didn't have calves when she was first studied in 1976 (when she was estimated to be at least 40 years old).
"We have 90% of the population precisely aged now, and the age structure will be completely known within a decade or so," he said. "We have very good photographs of J2 "Granny" since 1967 and do not doubt that she is very old."
Balcomb also noted that though Granny's age is supported by scientific research, not everyone is a fan of her:
"Sea World, of course has never believed us; but, anyone with eyes can verify the whales' age."
You can see more footage of Granny and her pod in this video: