orcinus orca

“The passing of legends”

Perhaps the most famous of the Southern Resident killer whales, J1 ‘Ruffles’ and J2 ‘Granny’, leisurely swim through a kelp forest. Ruffles, long thought to be Granny’s son, was well known by whalewatchers for his enormous waved dorsal fin that gave him his name. Last seen in 2010, the big bull is considered deceased. At the time of painting this piece Granny still had several more years to go. But late 2016 her time was done, and she quietly disappeared. And so the ‘passing’ in the title is a double one: not only do these whales pass by in the image, both of them have sadly passed away as well.

On a more technical note, I tried my hardest to get all markings (down to the last rake mark) correct, which was quite a challenge. Not in the least because neither whales were frequent breachers and both had the harrowing tendency to be photographed from their right side instead of the left. Even so all markings, except for Ruffles’ flank patch and fluke undersides, and the latter half of Granny’s flank patch, are true to the real whales. The kelp in the painting, bull kelp, a species that occurs in the Southern Resident’s home range.

This painting was a commission for Britannia-Orca on deviantart.


“One of the issues that orca face is that they are such remarkable animals, and because of that people want to see them up close and personal…so there are other people who want to make a profit from that. They capture the orca from the wild, and they rip them out of their families and they dump them into these concrete tanks and make them perform tricks. People pay to go and see that, they’re brainwashed into thinking that this is a really good thing to see and a good thing to do, it’s “family entertainment”, and they  just don’t seem to realize how much these animals suffer.” - Dr. Ingrid N. Visser