Orca Grandma J2′s 100th birthday party

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Orca Grandma J2′s 100th birthday party

[Ed. Note: For more, read Another Tragic Killer Whale Death Occurs at SeaWorld Orlando and Renowned Travel Writer Apologizes For Past Support of SeaWorld.]

By Michael Mountain,  Earth in Transition
July 2011


“Granny” J2 puts on a show for her fans.
Photo courtesy, Orca Network

On July 2nd, Granny J2 celebrated her 100th birthday. They held a party in her honor on San Juan Island, off the coast of Seattle.

How do they know she just turned 100? That’s one of the questions on my list for Ken Balcomb. Ken is Senior Scientist at the Center for Whale Research and one of several orca experts who are getting together at the center on Snug Harbor this week.

I’ll be there, too, learning as much as possible from these great folks, and hoping to see some of the orcas as they go by the center on one of their fishing expeditions each afternoon. (Keep your fins crossed that they’re hanging out there this week. It all depends on where the fish are.)

Howard Garrett, who runs the Orca Network, sent an e-mail last week with some of the latest news, including about J2’s birthday party. (She wasn’t at the party – probably having her own family celebration in the ocean nearby.)

L pod and the rest of K pod came in yesterday. Now all three pods are all here and the superpod antics have been amazing. Apparently all 88 are present and accounted for. Check the reports on the Orca Network Facebook page for details, or here: The calls last night on the hydrophones were ecstatic!

And there’s a new baby in the past few days, K44.

There should be some excellent orca action out there next week, unless they run out of Chinook salmon and have to head back out.

We had a great 100th birthday party for J2 at the lighthouse and at the Center last weekend. Actually played some volleyball for the first time there in over ten years. Are you all ready for some volleyball?

Howard has promised to give us all an Orca 101 talk on all the latest field studies – i.e. what we’re learning from orcas in the ocean.

Suzanne Chisolm and Mike Parfit, producers of The Whale, about little lost Luna, who got separated from his family in Nootka Sound BC, will be showing us a preview of their movie about an orca who loses his family in the ocean and starts making friends with humans instead.

Jeff Ventre has been keeping us up to date on the very unseemly fight that’s going on between SeaWorld in Florida and Marineland in Canada, over which of them “owns” Ikaika, an eight-year-old orca whom SeaWorld “loaned” to Marineland for breeding three years ago, but who Marineland claims they have a legal right to keep for life.

The fact is Ikaika doesn’t “belong” to either of these corporations. They have no right to deprive these amazing animals of a long and wondrous life in the ocean, like Grandma J2 has had, and keep them in a pool where they die, on average, when they’re about 15 years old.

Jeff used to be a trainer at SeaWorld, but he gave it up and now spends whatever time he can (he’s a doctor by profession) working to bring an end to the captivity of orcas and other dolphins.

Lori Marino, the world’s leading expert on the brains of dolphins, will be giving us the latest insights on the intelligence and personalities of these amazing creatures.

And author David Kirby will be talking about his forthcoming book about Tilikum and the multiple traumas that led up to him killing his trainer Dawn Brancheau.