The oldest known orca in the world was spotted near Vancouver Island this past weekend, marking the grand matriarch's annual return to her home waters just in time for Mother's Day.
The whale, known as "Granny" or J2, is estimated to be up to 103-years-old.
Simon Pidcock of Ocean Ecoventures in Cowichan Bay said he spotted Granny on May 9 in the southern section of the Strait of Georgia midway across, along with the rest of her family known as J Pod.
It was the first time that the pod of resident whales had been spotted in the area this spring. The pod normally spends the summers in the waters between the mainland and Vancouver Island now known as the Salish Sea.
"With her age, we're always concerned, you know, whether she's going to come back, you know, for another year. And so everyone's really … you know … it's the first question … is Granny there?" said Pidcock.
"And sure enough, she was. She was travelling with the front of the pod with another larger male … so, everyone was pretty excited."
The lifespan of a wild orca is generally 60 to 90 years. It is estimated Granny was born in 1911.
Pidcock says the estimates of her age are based on studies of the family group that began in the 1970. The pod is the most studied population of killer whales in the world.