It’s possible that Iceberg also has the same problem, of course, something which may be passed down to the next generation via inbreeding. However, the fact that he’s 22 years of age is a sign that it is survivable into maturity.
“He was at least 15 to 17 years old when we saw him in 2010, so now he's at least 22,” Hoyt points out. “That's significant adulthood.”
Orcas are toothed cetaceans belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. These apex predators can be found in waters all over the world, from the Antarctic to the Arctic, but as ever, habitat loss, oceanic pollution, overzealous fishing practices, and capture by humans has heavily shrunk their numbers as of late.
At present, there are around 50,000 in the wild, and 56 are still in captivity. They can live for around 60 years in the wild, but they rarely make it past 12 when imprisoned.
These highly intelligent creatures are vital for marine ecosystems, so conservation efforts are in full swing to make sure they stay protected from negative human influence. This means leaving them in the oceans where they belong, along with mitigating dangerous human behaviors.
Iceberg isn’t the only rare orca spotting this year. Just this August, Granny, the world’s oldest living orca at 105 years of age, was spotted in “high spirits” off the coast of Washington State.
Fuss Peak, an active stratovolcano on Paramushir Island, Kuril Islands, Russia. Byelikova Oksana/Shutterstock