Granny (J2) The Whale’s 100th Birthday: Poignant and Inspirational

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On Saturday, 100 year old J2’s well-wishers came from all over, quickly filling the small parking lot at San Juan Island’s Whale Watching Park, and parking up the road where they could.  Families picnicked, enjoyed the music from The Kevin Carr Family Band, and were thrilled when the wild orcas showed up at the end of the day just offshore of the lighthouse.

Watching the orcas as they swam by.

There was a sense of thoughtfulness among the whale watchers as the orcas passed by, and I wondered how many might have been thinking about the fragility of this endangered population of whales, or what it might mean that an orca could have survived for 100 years.  When the Center for Whale Research’s senior scientist Ken Balcomb spoke, he explained the science behind estimating the ages of the whales, then gently pointed out that continued research will provide information on orcas over the next 100 years…provided we restore the salmon population upon which the whales depend.
Ken Balcomb (left), senior scientist at The Center for Whale Research spoke about the future outlook for the Southern Resident orca population.

Dedicated volunteers from Orca Network, Killer Whale Tales, and The Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists joined The Center for Whale Research in providing information, and shared one underlying message:  you can make a difference, and that it is not too late to turn the situation around.

Jeff Hogan from Killer Whale Tales has innovative, fun activities for kids and a program that teachers can incorporate into their lesson plans.

Jeff Hogan, from Killer Whale Tales, brought touchable exhibits for the kids, and innovative activities that he incorporates into programs available to teachers.  Orca Network provided materials for making paper fin hats, and the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists distributed information and answered questions.
Ultimately this was a celebration of our changing awareness, as well as a birthday party for a very senior whale, so once the activities were concluded at the park many people continued to celebrate at The Center for Whale Research, some until the very wee hours. And J2, grand dame that she is, decided to show up at 8 a.m. the next morning with a splashy show of her own – getting the sleepy researchers out of bed and back to work cataloging the orcas and maintaining records.
J2 (Granny) photo by Astrid van Ginneken

You go, Granny.

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