Speiden (J8) was a female orca who lived to be about 80 years old.  She was born in 1933 and went missing, presumed dead, in the fall of 2013.

 

Speiden was the second oldest southern resident orca, a matriarch known for her distinctive wheezy breaths and her small stubby fin with a nick at the base of the trailing edge.  Her closest companions were 102-year-old Granny (J2), the grand matriarch of J-pod, and Onyx (L87), a 21-year-old male from L-pod.

 

Speiden was not known to have any offspring, though it’s hard to know because research didn’t begin until after the whale capture era from 1966-1976, when dozens of whales were seized from area waters.  Sadly, she might have lost several offspring during those years.  Later, some years before her death, she “adopted” Onyx, a young male who had moved from L-pod to K-pod, and finally to J-pod. After Speiden’s death, Onyx stayed close to Granny, the pod leader.

 

Speiden was long a favourite of whale-lovers. 

 

She wheezes no more.

Citizen Scientist: Gregory Nicholls

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