December 21, 2005

Kandu 7, Marineland Ontario’s only male orca died on December 21, 2005. Cause is not known yet. Kandu 7 was captured off Iceland in November 1984, together with Bingo, Junior, Freyja/Patty and an unnamed male. Bingo at Kamogawa Sea World, Japan, is the lone survivor of this capture. Kandu 7 was about 6 years old when captured. He was one of the tallest orcas in captivity, measuring about 23.5 feet and weighing in at 11,000 pounds (as of February 2004).

Kandu 7

With this loss Marineland Ontario is left with only three orcas, adult females Kiska and Nootka 5 plus Kiska’s female calf Athena, born in August 2004. 

That is the ninth orca death at Marineland Ontario since 1998, plus two miscarriages. Add to that the unconfirmed stroke of owner John Holer and one can only speculate about the park’s future.

December 9, 2005: 
SeaWorld will send 4 young killer whales to Loro Parque, a zoo in the Canary Islands.

“SeaWorld Orlando and its sister park in San Antonio are making final preparations to transport four young killer whales to a zoological park in the Canary Islands. SeaWorld Orlando recently welcomed the birth of a killer whale, bringing the total there to 10, and the three SeaWorlds nationwide are brimming with two dozen orcas. So the parks have enough that they can safely share four with the Loro Parque zoological park at Tenerife, said Fred Jacobs, spokesman for Busch Entertainment Corp., parent of the SeaWorld parks. “We’ve known them for a long time, and they do an excellent job,” Jacobs said of Loro Parque, a privately owned facility that features sea lions, dolphins, alligators, parrots and land animals but no killer whales. 
Jacobs said Loro Parque trainers have been at SeaWorld in San Antonio for about the past year, learning to care for and train the big black-and-white sea mammals. A 7 million-gallon pool is under construction at Loro Parque to house the animals. 

Two juvenile killer whales from Orlando and two from San Antonio will be shipped to the park as soon as the work is complete, possibly in early February, Jacobs said. The killer whales are not being sold outright, but SeaWorld does have a “financial arrangement” with Loro Parque in the venture, Jacobs said. He would not provide details of the agreement.

SeaWorld has been criticized in the past by animal-rights groups for the sale or transfer of animals, such as sea-lion pups. The Humane Society of the United States on Wednesday repeated its longstanding objection to marine parks that display whales and dolphins, saying that the public should not visit them or support them financially. “You can do OK with fish, but not whales and dolphins,” Humane Society spokesman Richard Farinato said. “There’s the space issue, a problem with acoustics, boredom. A tank is a very noisy, unnatural environment.” 

Farinato said the Humane Society particularly objects to SeaWorld sending killer whales to a park outside the United States, where regulations are less stringent. “It’s irresponsible,” Farinato said.

Brad Andrews, director of zoological operations for Busch Entertainment, said Wednesday that the SeaWorld parks have been working closely with Loro Parque to make sure it has adequate room and proper training to handle the big animals, which have on rare occasions injured or killed humans. 

Andrews said he just returned from a trip to Loro Parque and saw that the massive pool is coming along nicely. “It’s going to be outstanding,” Andrews said. “We’ve been providing technical expertise, not only on the habitat requirements but also on the care and training of killer whales.” 

He said that once the four juveniles leave the U.S. parks, Orlando still will have eight (five adults and three juveniles); San Antonio will have five (two adults and three juveniles); and San Diego will have seven (four adults and three juveniles.) Jacobs said the four that will be sent to the Canary Islands are fully weaned and mature enough to be transported. The Canary Islands are in the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Spain and northwest of Africa, off the coast of Morocco. Jacobs said the whales will be flown to Tenerife island aboard chartered jets, with the animals secured in reinforced canvas slings that sit inside large watertight transport containers lined with foam.”

Jerry W. Jackson | Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer

© 2005 Orlando Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

Update on December 16, 2005: Because the story is quite inconsistent when it comes to differentiate juveniles and adults, there is some speculating about the identity of the young whales that have been selected for Spain. Among the most commonly named are Kohana and Skyla from Orlando. Regarding San Antonio the names Tekoa and either Tuar, Keet or Keto are dropped in discussions. It’ll probably be until February/March next year, when the move might be made, that we know for sure.

November 24, 2005: 
Yesterday night Kim 2 died at Marineland Antibes, France. Cause is not known yet. Kim 2 was captured off Iceland in October 1982, together with Freya, Haida 2, Nootka 4 and an unnamed male. Freya is the lone survivor. Kim 2 was about 1 year old when captured. He measured about 21 feet and weighed in at 10,800 pounds (as of Summer 2004).

Kim 2

Update on December 3, 2005: An autopsy performed by Doctor David Taylor, specialized veterinary surgeon and Doctor Mark Stidwordky, veterinary pathologist, showed the presence of an acute septicemy and lung infection due to the bactery Pseudomomas. This omnipresent microbe became very resistant to antibiotics, can attack with extreme speed and has the capacity to decrease immunizing defenses. Fortunately, this disease is not contagious. According to Marineland’s director Mike Riddell, the park will try artificial insemination, now that they have lost their only adult male.

November 24, 2005: 
Yesterday at 10:22 pm Takara gave birth to her second calf at SeaWorld Orlando. Takara’s first calf is Kohana, born in May 2002.

Update December 16, 2005: It’s a boy!

November 20, 2005: 
SeaWorld staff has a whale of a nursing job

“A female killer whale calf born at SeaWorld San Antonio Oct. 9 recently celebrated her one-month birthday. The calf, which was rejected by its mother soon after birth, now weighs 366 pounds, is over 7 feet long and has started teething! Fifty SeaWorld San Antonio animal care specialists and trainers have been giving the calf twenty-four hour care, including bottle feedings every two hours of 900 milliliters of commercial formula, supplemented by milk from her mother on a daily basis. The calf also is weighed daily to assist in preparing formula and weekly blood samples are being taken to determine the calf’s health and follow the development of her immune system.

“In the past 30 days, we have learned an incredible amount about hand-rearing a killer whale,” said Dudley Wigdahl, vice president of zoological operations at the marine life adventure park. “Respirations, nursing and other vital indicators look good, and we’ll continue to keep a close watch on the calf,” he said.

This is the first time any SeaWorld park has intervened to rear a killer whale calf at birth. The SeaWorld parks have extensive experience hand-rearing dolphins, manatees, sea lions and walruses, particularly animals adopted by the parks after being orphaned in the wild. SeaWorld San Antonio’s Entertainment Department connected an audio system from Shamu Stadium to the zoological support area, where the calf currently resides, that allows the calf to hear the sounds of other killer whales. The calf also has a companion female bottlenose dolphin swimming with her in her pool.

This was the first birth for 17-year-old mother whale, Kayla, who measures 18 feet long and weighs approximately 6,000 pounds. This birth increases SeaWorld San Antonio’s killer whale population to eight. The calf has not been formally named, but she is being referred to as “K-calf” by her caregivers. The “K” stands for Kayla, her mother. For the first time at any SeaWorld park, staffers have had to take over nursing duties from a mother whale.”

© 2005 Sea World. All Rights Reserved.

November 6, 2005: 

“The Miami Seaquarium lost 1,000 fish, including 20 sharks, when Hurricane Wilma pushed Biscayne Bay into the marine park, Seaquarium executives said Friday. The widespread deaths — the worst since Hurricane Andrew flooded the Virginia Key park in 1992 — spared the Seaquarium’s star mammals: dolphins, sea lions and Lolita, the killer whale. But they add to the woes facing the 50-year-old park, which now doesn’t expect to reopen until sometime next year.

Wilma pushed a four- to six-foot tidal surge over the park’s southern sea wall, which lost entire sections to the storm. The sea water pushed so much silt and dirt into the moat-like shark and fish tanks — known to park-goers as Discovery Bay and Shark Channel — that the creatures were smothered, park executives said. ”It’s really a tragedy,” said Robert Rose, animal curator. He estimated 50 sting rays, 20 tarpon and hundreds of reef fish died in the contaminated tanks. Two sea turtles are also missing, the only animals the Seaquarium identified as unaccounted for after Wilma.

Andrew closed the Seaquarium for four months, and general manager Andrew Hertz said he doubted the post-Wilma recovery would go faster. And while the park hoped to start generating revenue by resuming its popular dolphin-swim program this month, Hertz said all profit-making activities must stop in order to collect business-interruption service. That leaves the dolphins nothing to do but eat fish and practice shows; Hertz said the park will keep on its trainers and animal-care staffs. But it laid off about 35 full-time workers and 40 part-timers, or about 25 percent of the Seaquarium’s workforce, Hertz said.

Park executives guided reporters through parts of the park, revealing a bruised but not devastated attraction. A section of an enclosed concrete walkway collapsed under a fallen tree, a wall with marine-life murals was ripped off by the wind and parts of the roof at Flipper Lagoon stadium were gone. Hertz said he would ask Miami-Dade County, which leases the site to the Seaquarium, for financial help to repair the damage. He would not put a dollar figure on the repairs or the value of the fish. The structures were insured, but the fish weren’t. To restock, the Seaquarium is pondering one of the biggest fishing expeditions it has ever undertaken.

The park has a permit to capture fish in open waters, and it regularly sends boats out to catch specimens for its tanks. Rose and Hertz said the Seaquarium has no defense against sea surges, which also killed the park’s sharks in 1992. While some animals are evacuated from their captive habitats when a storm approaches, there is nothing to be done for the sharks, rays or fish that live there, they said. Animal-rights activist Russ Rector criticized the Seaquarium for allowing the fish to die. ”You’d think that a place like the Seaquarium would have learned their lesson after Andrew,” he said. “But they didn’t.” Since dolphins and sea lions breathe at the surface, they were able to survive the flooding, Seaquarium executives said.”

By Douglas Hanks

© 2005 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

October 23, 2005: 
SeaWorld staff has a whale of a nursing job

“For the first time at any SeaWorld park, staffers have had to take over nursing duties from a mother whale.

Now 15 days old, a female killer whale calf born at SeaWorld San Antonio gets weighed, with the help of a special support sling and animal care specialists. The calf, which was 264 pounds at birth, is being hand-raised by staffers, who have to feed her every two hours around the clock.Kayla, a 17-year-old killer whale, gave birth to a female calf Oct. 9 at the Shamu Stadium. After a two-hour delivery, she rejected her calf, leaving SeaWorld specialists to rear the baby by hand. It takes more than three people to feed her, a prolonged process that takes place every two hours around the clock. The calf was 6 feet, 9 inches long and weighed 264 pounds. This is the first birth for the mother, who measured 18 feet and weighs 6,000 pounds. Specialists immediately paired the calf with a companion, a female bottlenose dolphin, to swim with and serve as a maternal presence. The dolphin didn’t connect with the baby either, and trainers returned her to her tank.

“We don’t know all of the specifics of why an animal rejects a baby,” said Dudley Wigdahl, vice president of zoology. “A first-time mother may have been confused with the birthing process or mechanics of birth.” Wigdahl said though it’s the first time that the SeaWorld San Antonio staff has had to raise a baby killer whale, it has reared other species, including a sea lion and dolphin. He said trainers at the San Diego park raised a Grey whale beached on the coast until it reached 18,000 pounds. The next hurdle, Wigdahl said, will come in the next three to six months, when the calf’s teeth will come in. That’s when the team plans to start weaning the baby on a whole food diet of fish, just as her mother would. Now, trainers feed the baby via a tube placed in the mouth with milk pumped from her mother. Their goal is to bring the baby to the point where she can eat on her own, then reintroduce her to Shamu Stadium where she was born, Wigdahl said.

The trainers and animal specialists said the birth has given them an opportunity to learn from the calf that likes to be rubbed down and is friendly with caretakers. “This is a career goal to work with a calf from day one,” said Julie Sigman, a 10-year veteran at the park. “It’s usually several months before we can work with a calf.” Sigman is one of the trainers involved in collecting milk from Kayla, the calf’s mother. The calf has shown steady weight gain and interacts with the trainers, all good signs for the day they reintroduce her to her mother and the other killer whales at Shamu Stadium. “They’re very social animals,” Wigdahl said. “Everybody will have to try and see where they fit in the social order.”

Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer

October 11, 2005: 
SeaWorld San Antonio officials expressed guarded optimism on the health of a killer whale calf born Sunday afternoon at the park’s Shamu Stadium. The female calf, which was rejected by its mother soon after birth, is now being hand-reared by SeaWorld animal care specialists and trainers.

“As soon as the mother indicated her disinterest in the calf, our team immediately stepped in to begin the process of hand-rearing”, said Dudley Wigdahl, vice president of zoology and general curator at the marine life park. “We’ve introduced a companion animal, one of our female bottlenose dolphins, to swim with the baby and we are beginning the process of feeding formula to the newborn.”

This was the first birth for 17-year-old mother whale, Kayla, who measures 18 feet long and weighs approximately 6,000 pounds. She gave birth to the calf following a two hour labor and delivery in the main pool at Shamu Stadium. The calf is 6 feet, 9 inches long and weighs 264 pounds. This birth increases SeaWorld San Antonio’s killer whale population to eight.

“This calf has already overcome several hurdles”, said Wigdahl. “Her breathing is strong and she is calm when interacting with staff. Raising an infant killer whale is a very challenging process.” This is the first time any SeaWorld park has intervened to rear a killer whale calf at birth. The SeaWorld parks have extensive experience hand-rearing dolphins, manatees, sea lions and walruses, particularly animals adopted by the parks after being orphaned in the wild. The calf’s condition is considered guarded; the mother is in good condition and is eating well. SeaWorld’s animal care and training staffs are monitoring both animals 24 hours per day.

September 19, 2005: 
Early September the vessel Putyatin left from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to attempt another orca capture in the Russian waters of Okhotsk. The vessel returned mid September due to heavy storms but will continue the capture attempts once the weather improves (Russian Orcas Homepage). The most recent wild orca capture took place in September 2003. A group of orcas was trapped using a fishing trawler equipped with a purse seine net. During the capture a young orca became entangled in the net, was unable to surface to breathe and consequently died. A single female was removed from the group and taken into captivity, but died less than one month later. The WDCS leads the protest against the Russian captures, please help!

April 5, 2005: 
Splash has died at SeaWorld San Diego. Splash, also known as Katak, was born to Nootka 5 at Marineland Ontario on August 15, 1989. He was transferred to SeaWorld California in April 1992 at the age of just 2,5 years. Splash suffered from epilepsy which SeaWorld controlled with anti-seizure medicine. He measured about 18 feet and weighed in at 5,500 pounds (Feb 2004). The cause of death is not reported yet, but apparently a tooth infection started the process. Now all six of Nootka 5’s calves are dead.


Here’s an article by the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“A killer whale named Splash who became ill last week died yesterday at SeaWorld. Veterinarians at the park were scheduled yesterday to perform a necropsy – the name given to an autopsy performed on an animal – on the 15-year-old male orca to determine the cause of death, said SeaWorld public relations manager Dave Koontz. “The whole park is very sad,” Koontz said. Splash has been at SeaWorld since 1992. He was born in captivity in 1989 at a marine park in Canada. For most of its life, the whale suffered from epilepsy and was given medication daily to treat the ailment, Koontz said. Late last week, the whale’s health began to deteriorate and his appetite dramatically dropped. The orca was subsequently treated with antibiotics, but his condition worsened. “It was a slow deterioration,” Koontz said. “He passed quietly.” Results of lab tests done as part of the necropsy won’t be known for at least a few weeks, he said. Splash is the first killer whale to die at SeaWorld California since Bjossa, a 25-year-old female died in October 2001 from complications of a lung infection.”

April 5, 2005: 
Witness accounts of the accident at SeaWorld Orlando:

“I was at SeaWorld of Orlando last Friday, April 1, 2005 during the 12:30 pm killer whale show. The whale that ruffed up the trainer was Taku. The trainer and Taku were about to slide on the slide out at the end of the show when Taku completly stopped and started “bumping” the trainer. The trainer was male and he finally swam out of the tank. I knew something was wrong because non of the whale except Kalina wanted to perform. Then they finally got Taku out to splash people at the end of the show, when this incident took place.”

The trainer injured was supervisor Sam Davis.

April 4, 2005: 
Killer whale jolts trainer – SeaWorld Orlando’s keyed-up orca slightly injured the worker.

“A SeaWorld Orlando trainer is expected to return to work soon after being injured by an “overly excited” killer whale, a theme-park spokeswoman said Sunday. The killer whale, one of nine at the park that go by the stage name Shamu, swam rapidly past the trainer and circled back, bumping him during the Shamu Adventure show at 12:30 p.m. Friday, spokeswoman Becca Bides said. “The trainer maintained control of the animal,” Bides said, and the show continued uninterrupted. The trainer, whose name was not released, was taken to Sand Lake Hospital for unspecified minor injuries and released the same day, she said. Heidi Harley, an associate professor at the New College of Florida in Sarasota and a former killer-whale trainer at the Miami Seaquarium, said it’s likely the killer whale knew what it was doing, but it’s not uncommon for a killer whale to become excited.

Killer whales, or orcas, and dolphins are tolerant of humans even if they haven’t worked with them from a young age, Harley said. “They’re remarkably easygoing about being in unprotected contact with adults,” Harley said, but that’s not to say you should go out and try to swim with them in the ocean, she said. Predators in the wild, killer whales hunt in groups called pods for almost anything, including fish, seals, sharks and penguins. They inhabit every ocean on earth. They are the largest member of the dolphin family and are immediately recognizable by their distinctive black and white markings. The males can grow to 22 feet or longer and usually weigh between 8,000 and 12,000 pounds. Bides said occasional bumps can be expected when working with animals that large. “Because of their size, these behaviors can appear more dramatic than they are,” she said. Harley said a close encounter could be frightening, but an experienced trainer “would want to focus on the situation rather than be distracted by fear. It is your relationship with the animal that is going to be the factor with how easily you get out in the end.”

Last year, a spectator at a Shamu Adventure show at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas, took dramatic footage of a 6,000-pound killer whale named Ky aggressively pushing veteran trainer Steve Aibel around the tank. The killer whale suddenly began swimming rapidly around the tank, launching itself halfway out of the water and onto Aibel. At one point, Aibel started to leave the tank, but Ky pulled him back in. The trainer was eventually able to calm Ky and escape without injury, but the spectator’s video showed several tense minutes. In interviews after the incident, Aibel said that he had worked with Ky for 10 years and the training was built around positive reinforcement of calm actions. He did not know what set Ky off that day, but he just waited for him to calm down, he said.

The last reported incident with a killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando occurred in 1999 when a dead man was found naked on the back of the whale Tilikum in a backstage tank. The man apparently had tried to swim with the 11,000-pound whale after the park closed. The South Carolina drifter was thought to have drowned or died of hypothermia. Tilikum and two other whales were blamed for drowning one of their trainers in 1991 while he was performing at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia. At SeaWorld Orlando, he was used for breeding and to give the final splash at the end of the show.”

By Christopher Sherman, Orlando Sentinel

March 20, 2005: 
Ocean Park Hongkong, who is without an orca since the death of Hoi Wai in April 1997, announced a redevelopment plan in order to compete with the opening of Disneyland in September 2005. One of the major plans is to introduce 33 new species into the park, which include orca(s), beluga(s), walrus, polar bear, whale shark, hammerhead shark, several species of penguins and more. So far no details are known about wherefrom the park wants to get those animals.

March 6, 2005: 
Kasatka’s calf of December 2004 has been named Kalia, the Hawaiian word for “beauty”.

January 25, 2005: 
Goro died of acute pneumonia on January 21st at Nanki Shirahama Adventure World, Japan, after more than 19 years in captivity. He had some skin problems around his pectoral fins and his fluke, comparable to those Keiko had in Mexico, but those were unrelated to his sudden death.


Goro was captured off Japan at about one year of age in October 1985, together with Nami, who’s still surviving at the Taiji Whaling Museum. With Goro’s death and the losses of both Kyu and Ran last summer, Nanki Shirahama Adventure World has lost it’s last orca. Hopefully they do not intend to participate in any new captures from the wild.