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My new children's book, WILD ORCA: The Oldest, Wisest Whale in the World with stunning illustrations by master illustrator, Wendell Minor is due out from Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt books in the fall of 2018. Here's a glimpse into the making of this book—the story of the beloved orca matriarch, Granny (J2) who led her J, K, and L pods for 105 years until her death in the winter of 2016. We celebrate Granny's long and astonishing life and hope her generations thrive.

Wendell's artist's studio as he paints this new book.

Here's a sneak peek at one of my favorite illustrations so far!
My favorite photo of Granny J2 by the remarkable photographer and naturalist, Sara Hysong-Shimazu (see more of her work on Facebook) 

Read my National Parks magazine summer, 2006 article on our Southern Resident orcas
Here's a fabulous Voice of the Orcas video featuring Balcomb's research.
Uploaded on Apr 29, 2010

Produced by Jeffrey Ventre MD, this audiovisual montage of K & L pods in the Haro Strait was filmed by Ken Balcomb, with Howard Garrett, Candi Emmons, and Dave Ellifrit on board.

VIDEO of orcas surfing a boat's wake. Watch this FULL SCREEN!

READ about research into Granny's longevity through "whale fingerprints" in this 2015 arrticle when she was 104.

January, 2017 the sad news that Granny J2 is presumed dead
A celebration of Granny's long life was held in June, 2017 at the Golden Gardens bathhouse. The beautiful Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers performed, and drummers, and storytellers gathered together with conservation groups and speakers to remember Granny J2 and continue the conservation work to help her J, K, and L pods survive. I spoke about meeting Granny for the first time in 2002 when I was a naturalist on a whale-watching boat in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Granny J2 was with her stalwart son, Ruffles, whose mighty dorsal fin, tall as a ship's sail, enthralled whale watchers. Granny spent time with us spyhopping, breaching, tail slapping, and gracing us with her presence. That encounter left me with such wonder and happiness that I resolved that day to write a children's book about her. My article about that day appeared in the Seattle P-I under the title, "Newborn Orcas Belong Most to Our Children."





Get involved in helping to save Granny's surviving family pods by becoming a member of the Center for Whale Research and joining OrcaNetwork for orca updates! And stay tuned for more glimpses of our WILD ORCA book! Here's a link to an illustrated retrospective of Granny's life and passing from The Stranger. 


Granny's J, K, and L family pods need our help to thrive. Orcas need chinook salmon to feed their next generations. Here's my Huffington Post article about how to support our iconic orcas—by tearing down the dams that stop salmon from returning to nourish not only orcas, but also the entire watershed and ecosystem.