Ruffles or J1 was given his nickname because of his distinctive wavy dorsal fin. Those in the know estimate his birth date as 1950, which would have made him 60 years old about ten years ago when he disappeared. He was the eldest whale in the Salish Sea and a constant presence in J Pod, often travelling with other males, in what was believed to be a mentor role. Apparently he fathered quite a few whales both within and without his own pod, some of which have survived the adverse circumstances that have depleted the orca population during this last decade.
Ruffles seems to have been a very personable whale, often leading his family with his mother or granny, cruising along side boats in a friendly and curious manner, or protectively placing himself between a boat and the route of a mother and calf.
In 2011 scientists recorded him on hydrophones making long repetitive sequences of rare calls. He was swimming by himself and it is presumed he was searching for his family group.
There are many wonderful anecdotes about Ruffles from return visitors all around the world who were fortunate enough to see him. He was an iconic presence who focused attention on the plight of these awesome and majestic creatures in our local waters.
Citizen Scientist: Yvonne Mackenzie