Princess Angeline, named for the daughter of Chief Seattle, was born into the JPod clan in the spring of 1977. Her mother was named Sarasota and was last seen in 1997, aged 20. Princess Angeline was born into a shattered community: the population of southern resident killer whales had been reduced to a historic low of 70 after a decade-long campaign of live capture and killings. She had a small scar near the right side of her dorsal fin, likely from a bullet, so she would have survived a gun wound in her early years
But at her mother’s side, she learned her language, and the skills she needed to survive: Where to find chinook salmon in all seasons, and how to hunt as a team and then share the catch so that every member of the family has a chance to thrive. She was as well born at a time when the Orca population was starting to recover: Canada had just banned live capture of killer whales for marine parks and the wanton shooting by mariners fell out of favour as the public became captivated by these intelligent cetaceans.
Princess Angeline became a matriarch of the JPod clan. Her children and grandchildren traveled with her as she passed on her knowledge and helped feed her offspring even when they were ten years of age. Tahlequah, J35, Moby, J44 and Kiki, J53, , are Princess Angeline’s offspring. Tahlequah is the 21-year-old mother who lost her newborn calf in the summer of 2018 and was seen carrying the baby’s body on her rostrum, or nose, for 17 days after it died. Kiki is 4 years old and Moby is 10. Princess Angeline has been described as a steadfast mother who is a helper and a touchstone for all her family,
In images captured in early May of 2019, Princess Angeline appeared emaciated and showing the telltale “peanut head” that indicates a significant decrease of blubber. By August, she could not be located by researchers, and in December 2019, Princess Angeline was declared deceased. JPod has lost a matriarch and an elder, at the age of 42. Her community and her family will be hugely impacted by the loss of her knowledge and guidance.