Riptide was born in 1996 and lived all his life in a pod led by his great- grandmother Granny (J2), J pod matriarch and longest living orca on record (she lived to 105). Riptide’s pod also included his mother Samish (J14) and his younger siblings Hy’shqa (J37), Shuttles (J40) and Se yi Chn (J45).
Riptide had an extraordinarily large dorsal fin for his age, and was easily identifiable for this reason.
As a young whale, Riptide was observed spending most of his time with Ruffles (J1), the oldest male in the pod. Many people report seeing the two males swimming and spending their days together and their apparent friendship touched observers. Some scientists consider Ruffles to have been a mentor to Riptide. But sadly when Riptide was 14, Ruffles went missing and is assumed dead.
Two years later, Riptide also went missing. He did not return to the inland waters with his pod in February 2012 and it is assumed he died sometime that winter. He was 16 years old and just on the cusp of reproductive age.
Riptide appeared to be healthy and it is unclear why he died. It is likely human impacts like declining salmon stocks, increasing noise from boats and increasing levels of pollution played a role in his death, as in the premature deaths of other orcas. RIP Riptide. We hope humans can do better to protect the remaining members of your pod while there is still time.
Citizen Scientist: Anneke Fleming