Experts say that killer whale, also known as Dopey Dick, is living off the west coast of Scotland. The orca became famous in November 1977 when it was first seen by locals in pursuit of a salmon prior to remaining five kilometers (3 miles) upriver of Loch Foyle for two days.
Marine experts are tracking orcas, as they are the UK's only known resident population of killer whales in the west coast community of whales.
Since 1994, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has been continually monitoring the behavior of the west coast population of killer whales. Part of their documentation includes four males and four females that have never reproduced since their studies began. The orcas are not noted to interact with other orcas belonging in the north-east Atlantic community.
Early this year, Lulu, one of the females was stranded near Tiree where it subsequently expired. The agency expressed that the discovering Dopey Dick as part of the west coast population is an important piece of information to understand the relative age of that particular orca population.
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group sightings officer Padraig Whooley said that Dopey Dick's sighting puts the west coast community at the upper limits of the expected life expectancy of male orcas.
"Adult males generally live to around 30 years, but with an upper range of 50 to 60 years," Whooley said.
Based on Dopey Dick's initial sighting in 1977, he is believed to be an adult male back then. This present sighting places Dopey Dick to at least 50 years or older. A killer whale expert, Andy Foote shared that a photograph posted on Facebook showed Dopey Dick's white eye patch that sloped backwards is hard to miss.
"I couldn't believe it - he was already a full-grown male back in 1977, when I was just five years old," Foote added.
Dr. Conor Ryan of Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust said that Dopey Dick's sighting puts pressure on whale biologists to conduct more studies about this particular species before time runs out. He expresses concern that species like Comet may become extinct.
"Since records began in the '80s, we haven't had any new animals join the population and we haven't had new calves either," said Ryan. "The population is declining because as the older animals die, they're not being replaced."
Earlier this month, marine experts lauded the decision of Seaworld to finally stop breeding of orcas in captivity. The company also said that they are no longer training the orcas but instead showcase them in their natural setting. The decision came months after a trainer was attacked by a killer whale.